Rescuing History

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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As many will recall, we acquired an early PeterSchuttler wagon several months ago.  Thewagon’s design is true old school Schuttler. It was made in 1900 and is one of the few surviving examples of the waythese vehicles were built during the last 2 decades of the 1800’s.  From the through-bolted gear and curvedcircle iron to features on the box itself, the construction of this wagon setsitself apart from the vast majority of “Chicago Wagons” still intact today.  Further distinguishing this high wheel wagonis its wide 60” track, hand forged hardware, and 10’ 9” box length.  In many ways, it’s exactly the kind of ultra-rarehistory we search so hard for.

Unfortunately, when we came across this set ofwheels, it had one major drawback.  Ithad been coated with a thick and extremely heavy, creosote-like substance.  On top of the hardened deposits, anotherdense, sticky layer of linseed oil had been added.  Not only was it impossible to determine thecondition of the wood beneath the unsightly mass, but I had seriousreservations as to whether any of this unnatural and invasive shroud could bereversed.  Nevertheless, we took achance, hoping against hope that we might discover a way to rescue this piece fromits tomb of tar.
While we’ve had some positive results when removing secondarypaint coatings, concentrated linseed oil, and other ill-advised applications onother vehicles, this Schuttler provided the ultimate test.  The good news is that we’ve been incrediblysuccessful in uncovering the original, surviving paint of this wagon.  The photos above show some of the progress on the rear hounds and brake hanger.  As the dark and dirty gunk began coming off, wequickly discovered a fair amount of century-plus-old paint along with some blueand white striping, skein size information, and numbers stamped into the reach,axles, hounds, and bolsters.  I’ve seensimilar four-character numbers on other Schuttler vehicles andhave briefly entertained them as part numbers. Since all of the numerals on this gear are an exact match and also located onalmost every section of the gear, it’s possible that they may be an ordernumber.  Ultimately, it’s one morequestion we’re working on answers to with this legendary manufacturer.
So, after roughly 25-30 hours of meticulous work,the business of liberating this Schuttler from its shell is almostfinished.  Immediately above and below are the near-finished results.  We’ve been fortunate to findso much original paint and all of the wood has turned out to be solid.  For the moment, I’ve kept the left frontwheel in the same state as the entire gear was found.  It’s a visible reminder of how easy these connectionsto our past can be lost.  Equallynoteworthy, the finished piece is an enduring symbol of the rewards of rescuinghistory.  For more information on thisrare wagon, drop us a line at
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