Take A Load Off…

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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From the mid-1800’s through the early part of the 20th century, there were literally thousands of patents granted for wagon designs and associated parts.  One of the areas with numerous patent submissions involved the reduction of stress on draft animals while harnessed to a vehicle. 
To that point, Kathy Christensen at www.midwestbuggy.com recently sent us a few snapshots of a design intent on reducing the pressure of tongue weight.  The accompanying photos show a rigid spring attached to the forward hounds of an early Mandt wagon.  The device is appropriately referred to as a tongue support or tongue spring.  A number of adaptations of this idea were successfully used and it’s possible to still see quite a few variations across the country.
Along with the spring itself, mounted on the rear cross member of the tongue is a latch that when placed in its fully extended and open position, will lock beneath the spring and help hold the tongue up, reducing pressure on the draft animals.  By simply lifting up on the tongue, the latch can be flipped back over and, instantly, it converts to a fully functioning drop tongue. 
As a matter of note, this particular spring appears to be a close adaptation of an 1888 patent granted to legendary wagon maker and inventor, T.G. Mandt. 
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