Horse Drawn Transitions

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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Throughout 200 years of horse drawn wagon manufacturing in the U.S, there were a lot of innovations and transitions – not just in the vehicle design and production processes but in the development of accessories as well.
One segment that saw a wealth of changes involved the foundation of every wagon - the wheel.  While some of the evolution in this area took place in the 1700 and 1800’s, other modifications occurred in the 20th century.  A good example lies with the conversion by many users from wooden wheels to rubber tires or, more specifically, from steel-tired wooden wheels to rubber-tired steel rims.  The transition was understandable.  Times had changed and, especially during a good part of the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s, wooden wagons were predominantly used on farms and/or improved roads.  Users wanted a smooth, quiet ride that was lower to the ground, typically being more stable and easier to load than the higher wheeled wagons. 
While some farmers and ranchers merely cut down the wooden wheels on their wagons and had them placed inside steel rims with rubber tires, others took advantage of skein adaptors that could be bolted to traditional vehicle rims.  These types of adaptors could be purchased from a number of outlets including large catalog houses like Montgomery Ward. 
The photos shown in this blog feature a set of these skein adaptors that were originally purchased in the 1930’s to be used on a high wheel wagon.  These kits included five bolts that connected to the wheel rim while the sleeve, itself, slid over the wagon skein and was held on by the skein nut.  The system was extremely efficient and allowed for quick modifications without permanently altering the original wheels belonging to the wagon.  Simple, effective and modestly priced, these adaptors also allowed the wagon to be used as a trailer on improved roads.  It was one more feature that extended the use of vintage wooden wagons well into 20th century America.
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