Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Weber Wagons

I spoke to a gentleman a few weeks ago who asked whether a Weber wagon box would normally be found on a McCormick-Deering running gear.  It’s a great question and one that cuts to the heart of how things were done back in the day.  Oftentimes today, collectors look for the perfect original vehicle… One with strong paint and logos, no unsoundness in the wood and a world of accessories that somehow managed to stay with the wagon over the last century.  Truth is, there is almost always a compromise to those wishes.

One area where some collectors don’t often compromise is in their desire to have a box sitting on a matching brand running gear.  Many surviving wagons, though, are “mismatched” in brands – at least by some 21st century assessments.  Hence the question regarding McCormick-Deering and Weber.  Both, as it happens to be are from the same company – International Harvester Corporation.  IHC, like many businesses today, learned early on the value of marketing ‘good, better and best’ product choices and pricing.  As a result, there are a number of antique wagon brands that carry the IHC logos.  Weber, Columbus, Buckeye, Steel King, Sterling, International Harvester and, yes, McCormick-Deering.  Complicating the matter a bit more are the additional wagon names (like Petrolia, Chatham & others) branded by IHC for the Canadian markets.  

But, back to the question... "Would it have been possible for a Weber box to have been placed on a McCormick-Deering gear at the dealership?"  Personally, I am confident this did happen.  I also know from period correspondence in our Wheels That Won The West® Archives that the boxes and gears were sometimes mixed by the end users.  One example that comes to mind is an old Reward Notice we have that was sent to various law enforcement officers in Texas.  The message on the notice indicates that a 2-year-old "Peter Schuttler Wagon with Luedinghaus bed" had been stolen.  The owner offered money for return of the wagon as well as capture of the thieves.  Interestingly, the reward was greater for the thief than the wagon itself!  Moral of the story... Don't mess with Texas and don't mess with a man's wagon - mismatched or not!