Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Removing Wagon Boxes

Anyone that’s ever removed or tried to remove a wagon box from the gear (undercarriage) knows that the task can leave one with back, leg, arm and finger damage quite quickly.  Those pieces aren’t just heavy but bulky and difficult to manage without assistance.  While it’s possible for a box (also called a bed) to be removed by one person, using brute strength alone inevitably spawns thoughts like, “There’s got to be a better way.”  Changing out these boxes was often necessary as farmers, ranchers, freighters and others frequently needed a different style of box or just the gear for other purposes.  For instance, while a triple-sided box worked well for hauling corn and grain, it was far from being the right configuration for hauling loose hay, lumber or logs.

Throughout the early wood-wheeled wagon era, there were many ideas as to how to handle this inconvenient and inefficient challenge.  Some dealt with it by trying to design a multi-purpose bed that could be used for virtually any purpose.  In an article entitled, “American Ingenuity,” I wrote about one company’s approach to this in the May issue of Farm Collector magazine back in 2005.  Not convinced that one box could ever work for all purposes, other users insisted that there were almost always times that a box needed to be removed.  Recognizing this, there were multiple devices engineered for aiding in the lifting of the boxes.
One such design was patented in 1886 by William Freeland of Edwardsport, Indiana.  His idea was to use a pivoting boom to lift the box straight off the wagon gear.  Here, we’ve shown his patent drawings demonstrating how the basic machine was to work.  Figures 1 shows an overhead view while figure 2 highlights the end view and the 3rd illustration profiles a perspective from the side.  Collectively, it’s a great use for the ages-old fulcrum and lever design written about by Archimedes during the 3rd century B.C.