Can you give us an overview of the primary work you do at Texas Cowboy Outfitters?
“I’m involved a wide range of work including the complete restoration of horse drawn equipment. I also repair a fair number of wagon wheels and build new wheels. The most common vehicles I work on are chuck wagons. It’s not unusual for a wagon to be missing some hardware like brake handles and other metal work. My experience as a blacksmith allows me to reproduce parts in a manner consistent with the original design.”
You’ve been doing this for some time now. How did you get started?
“Fresh out of college I had a job as a cattle inspector. I saw a lot of wagons going to ruin so I started collecting them. This was about 1971. I tinkered with them for years and then made it a full time business about 1995.”
During all that time you’ve been involved with a number of vehicle projects. Which ones do you consider to be the most significant?
“I guess the most significant accomplishments I’ve had the privilege of being a part of are the restorations for different museums. Last year, I restored a Newton brand wagon into an 1880’s trail wagon with all the items needed to go up the trail. This was for the Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum in Cuero Texas. I did a chuck wagon and a Chihuahua two-wheeled freight cart for the Museum of the Big Bend, Alpine Texas. Another interesting project was a Prairie schooner scene for the Harrison County Museum in Marshall, Texas.”
What's the most memorable vehicle that you've been involved with?
“Most projects are memorable at the time. The Chihuahua cart was a challenge. I actually felled the cottonwood trees and hand-hewed the parts to fit. Another interesting set of wheels was a chuck wagon that went to Australia. It had roller bearings in wooden hubs. All of the wood had to be new for it to clear customs in Australia.”
What are some of the things you’re working on now?
“I'm restoring a Springfield wagon right now. I also have an assortment of wheels I’m repairing and other blacksmithing jobs, including one where I’m making the chain for an old drag shoe. When I’m finished with the Springfield, it will have new rear wheels as well as a new bed, seat, chuck box, and oven boot. Next in line is a Weber brand wagon that will also be made into a chuck wagon.”
Of all the old makers, is there one brand that you tend to gravitate toward?
“My favorite wagon is an Owensboro since I've had one for 42 years. It was originally a Texas Edition Cotton wagon. I’m also partial to Peter Schuttler wagons.”
Just one more question and we’ll let you get back to work… What is it that you enjoy most about the work you do?
“You meet a lot of nice people in this business. It’s rewarding seeing something you built being preserved in a museum. I enjoy working with wood and metal. Working on wagons allows me to do both. The November 2013 issue of Western Horseman magazine has an article about my work as well.”
Thanks to Glenn and Patty Moreland for their time and assistance with this interview. You can learn more about their work by visiting their website at www.texcowboy.com Next week, we’ll take a brief break from the interviews and share a few details related to a rare set of wheels in the Wheels That Won The West® vehicle collection.
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