Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Enthusiasm is catching, no matter the subject.  It’s one of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed spending time with Tom Elliott of Clinton, Arkansas.  He truly enjoys old wagons and that passion is a familiar sight at countless western events, trail rides, and chuck wagon competitions. 

It seems he’s always working on a new project in his shop and that bond to the old west is continually reinforced by a healthy interest in the history of the early wagon industry.  As another in a series of interviews we’ve been conducting, Tom was gracious to answer a few questions about his wagon-hobby-turned-business…

Whatever the topic, sometimes the story behind the story is the most interesting.  With that in mind, we asked Tom if he could give us some insight into his work with wagons along with the kind of services he offers.
“I enjoy the process of research, restoration, and replication of original metal parts for wagons.  We offer several for sale on our web site at  I also have a second web site  As far as I can tell, I'm about the only place you can buy new seat springs made just like the originals.  I'm not a blacksmith although in researching my family tree I had many blacksmith relatives.  I have one of the best blacksmiths in the country that works for me.  Same thing with pin striping.  I don't have that kind of talent but I've got an awesome pin striper who does my work.”

Tell us about your beginnings, Tom… how did you get started?
“I always loved western history and old wagons. One day at an auction in 1999 I bought an old wagon, took it home, tore it apart, rebuilt it with a new tongue and groove floor and I was hooked!”

What do you consider your most significant accomplishment in your business?
“It’s gratifying to help folks connect with hard-to-find wagon parts.  I also enjoy providing advice to people who have no idea where to begin in the restoration of a wagon.  I've been there and done that so I can relate to their problems.”

What's the most memorable vehicle (or part) that you've found or worked on?
“That's a tough one.  Each new project is memorable to me.  I guess one that really sticks in my mind though was a metal-wheeled Springfield wagon that had belonged to a client’s grandfather.  As you can see from the picture it was a pile of rusted metal and rotted wood.”

What are some of the projects you currently have in your shop?

“I have a high wheel Bain I need to get started on and I just bought a 1916 Pontiac spring wagon that's in pretty good shape but needs some minor work.”

What's your favorite early vehicle brand and why?
“Although I've never seen either one in person I guess it would have to be a Joseph Murphy freight wagon and the stagecoaches made by Abbot-Downing.  The number of wagons they turned out and the quality of work they did just amazes me.  Wouldn't it be great if we could go back in time, meet these people and work in their shop for about six months?”


What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
“Helping people with parts and restoration advice is important to me.  I also enjoy seeing the finished product of my restorations from a badly deteriorated old wagon to a like-new wagon. I've preserved a piece of history!” 

Thanks to Tom and all those we’ve interviewed to date.  They’re a special breed committed to education, preservation, and perpetuation of western-wheeled history.  You can learn more about Tom by visiting his website at  There’s plenty to take in on the site so enjoy your time there and tell him ‘hello’ from us.