It seems he’s always working on a newproject in his shop and that bond to the old west is continually reinforced bya healthy interest in the history of the early wagon industry. As another in a series of interviews we’vebeen conducting, Tom was gracious to answer a few questions about his wagon-hobby-turned-business…
Whatever the topic, sometimes the storybehind the story is the most interesting. With that in mind, we asked Tom if he could give us some insight into hiswork with wagons along with the kind of services he offers.
“I enjoy the process of research,restoration, and replication of original metal parts for wagons. We offer several for sale on our web site at www.cowboycooking.com. I also have a second web site www.springfieldwagon.com. As far as I can tell, I'm about the onlyplace you can buy new seat springs made just like the originals. I'm not a blacksmith although in researchingmy family tree I had many blacksmith relatives. I have one of the best blacksmiths in the country that works forme. Same thing with pin striping. I don't have that kind of talent but I've gotan awesome pin striper who does my work.”
Tell us about your beginnings, Tom… howdid you get started?“I always loved western history and oldwagons. One day at an auction in 1999 I bought an old wagon, took it home, toreit apart, rebuilt it with a new tongue and groove floor and I was hooked!”
What do you consider your mostsignificant accomplishment in your business?“It’s gratifying to help folks connectwith hard-to-find wagon parts. I alsoenjoy providing advice to people who have no idea where to begin in therestoration of a wagon. I've been thereand done that so I can relate to their problems.”
What's the most memorable vehicle (or part) that you've found or worked on?
“That's a tough one. Each new project is memorable to me. I guess one that really sticks in my mindthough was a metal-wheeled Springfield wagon that had belonged to a client’sgrandfather. As you can see from thepicture it was a pile of rusted metal and rotted wood.”
What are some of the projects you currently have in your shop?“I have a high wheel Bain I need to get started on and I just bought a 1916Pontiac spring wagon that's in pretty good shape but needs some minor work.”
What's your favorite early vehicle brandand why?“Although I've never seen either one inperson I guess it would have to be a Joseph Murphy freight wagon and the stagecoachesmade by Abbot-Downing. The number ofwagons they turned out and the quality of work they did just amazes me. Wouldn't it be great if we could go back intime, meet these people and work in their shop for about six months?”
What do you enjoy most about the workyou do?“Helping people with parts and restorationadvice is important to me. I also enjoy seeingthe finished product of my restorations from a badly deteriorated old wagon toa like-new wagon. I've preserved a piece of history!”
Thanks to Tom and all those we’veinterviewed to date. They’re a specialbreed committed to education, preservation, and perpetuation of western-wheeledhistory. You can learn more about Tom byvisiting his website at www.cowboycooking.com There’s plenty to take in on the site soenjoy your time there and tell him ‘hello’ from us.