The “simple” farm wagon. It’s a verbal reference and perception I’ve heard many times yet remains one that defies logic. The point becomes even clearer when attempting to identify non-obvious brands in the numerous surviving examples of nineteenth and early twentieth century wagons. So, how are these seemingly simple vehicles complicated? First, it’s important to recognize that similarities between brands generally exist only with casual overviews or cursory glances. Detailed examinations can help point to specific brand identities while also exposing significant variations within engineered construction, design, materials and features.
Differences can include but, are certainly not limited to… track width, weight capacities, wheel height, tire width, tire design, tire rivets, tire bolts, felloe rivets, hub bands, felloe contours, hub dimensions, wheel boxings, skein type, skein size, axle type and construction, sand board plate design, sand board design, bolster plate design, wheel wrench, hammer strap, stay chain hook placement and design, hound bracing, hound configuration, circle iron design, slider design, sway bar design, reach parts, reach plate, bolster standard/stake design, reach box design, tongue hardware design, types of wood used and specific wood contour elements.
With all of this mentioned, none of these distinctions include the complicated, scientific and artistic aspects of wheel dish, pitch, gather, vehicle draft, balance and tire metallurgy; Not to mention variations in paint chemistry, application and design - or any of the numerous variables within the hygroscopic aspects of wood itself.