_ If they sat in non distracted quietness during the recent pandemic, some people might have had time to reflect upon the simpler necessities in life. For example in February 2021, seven million Texans had to endure usually cold weather for a period, without electricity to illuminate or to warm their homes. They had to boil contaminated tap water before they could drink it. Suddenly inconveniences like the unavailability of toilet paper shrunk in importance, compared to simple survival during the dark and bitterly cold nights. A sobering and unpleasant reality check for some no doubt. Elsewhere, society has been in ‘isolation mode’ so to speak. At no time during this pandemic however, has our freedom of mobility, been threatened. Those that can, jump into a car or onto a motorcycle to get outside and to escape the isolation and entrapment of their domiciles. For a century now the automobile has been a symbol of independence and personal freedom.
What if that freedom of mobility were lost or taken away? What if our cars did not work? What if some apocryphal meteorite strike or serious volcanic event changed the status quo? What if China belligerently attacked Taiwan, causing the US to step in; and then multiple preemptive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon strikes from outer space orbits, ensued? Even if not a drop of blood was spilled, if such EMP weapons work as predicted then the electrical grid could be fried and unserviceable for years. Only certain shielded military vehicles or antique (50 yr+) automobiles or farm tractors would be capable of moment afterwards. Two hundred million abandoned and rusting “modern” automobiles would have to be bulldozed off the highways later, assuming the economy ever recovered.
There are 4.09 million miles of navigable roadways across America’s fifty states alone. Millions of people live and commute from many miles beyond the suburbs or boundaries of metropolitan areas. Without the convenience of modern automotive transport, their lives would change drastically. Some people have bicycles. But you can’t pack much freight or haul many groceries home, while pedaling a bicycle. After a suppositional crisis, some innovative people might try to bridle and use the nearest horse or other beast of burden, as their ancestors once did. In most cases innovative and capable young people would need to relearn or completely re-invent ways to bridle, saddle or harness those work animals. Without the pressing stimulus of a calamity however, there should at least be some historical impetus by a few anyway, to maintain a knowledge and familiarity with pre-existing transportation technology. There was more sophistication there than meets the eye.
Reinventing the Wheel
_ It’s easy for someone to gratuitously boast about today’s new extraordinary technology. They might brag that contemporary technology has explosively expanded in just the recent decades. Modern advancements in medicine, electronics and atomic theory are undeniable, yet these and other achievements implicitly rely upon a multiplicity if ideas and of hard won knowledge, earned by preceding generations.
_ Consider transportation for a moment. Compare then the marvel of mechanical engineering exemplified as the modern automobile, to the lowly horse drawn buggy which it replaced a century ago. A car leans upon a long host of ancillary technologies before it can even begin to preform its own function. Temporarily ignore a car’s electronics & battery chemistry; its internal combustion engine with steel crankshaft, cylinders, pistons and then its petroleum refinement requirements. Let us ponder instead some more primal but critically necessary innovations that the modern automobile inherits from yesteryear’s buggy or wagon.
The wheel is probably the most essential mechanical invention of all time. The wheel is indispensable to some modern machinery (like Swiss watches or for space satellites using CMG gyroscopes), but let us just concentrate upon mechanical wheels for transportation. Long before the invention of the automobile, the wheel had undergone much development. Some of the wooden wheels found on the light horse drawn carriages perfected only a short century ago are in themselves, marvels of engineering.
<Video> 100 Year Old Buggy Wheel Built Incorrectly | Engels Coach Shop
The oldest wheel found by any archaeologist so far, was discovered in Slovenia and estimated to be about 5,120 years old. Approximately five thousand years would pass before the first internal combustion engine powered automobile would haul people down a road. The Benz Patent Motorwagen built in 1885, used three wheels. So chariots and carriages have been using wheels for at least 51.2 centuries, whereas automobiles so far have only utilized wheels for a meager 1.3 centuries. A fifty century difference.
The reader should not dismiss wooden wagon and buggy wheels as being simple and dismissable devices. Those wooden wheels are the culmination of centuries of refinement; and it still requires quality materials and a skilled wheelwright to fabricate a good one. For example the chariots like the one Ramesses II used to scoot around the battlefield with in the 14th century BC, used spoked wheels; which were a great improvement upon what existed before. Yet those early chariots had to come to almost a complete stop before they could be gently turned around. Egyptian chariots could not be turned at speed because, the flexural stresses exerted by the mass of the chariot and contents turning too quickly, would shatter those wheels.
Labourers are shoeing a wheel using hammers and “devil’s claws” to fit a hot metal hoop onto the felloe.
An eon later the Romans (borrowing technology yet again from the Celts) would construct far superior chariot wheels by mounting hot, wrought iron tires. While iron tires were initially intended to protect the wheel’s surface from road wear, the process of fitting ‘tyres’ tightly so that they would stay on and stay put, also deformed and substantially strengthened the wheel. As the iron hoop cooled – it constricted, binding the components into a stronger cohesive unit. Effectively the constriction if done right, pulls or presses the felloes, spokes and hub very tightly together, but in so doing usually causes the wheel to assume a dish or concave shape. The compressive, flexural and even tensile strength of such a wheel are then dramatically improved. Most wooden spoked wagon or carriage wheels made to this day, will sport similar concave or dish shaped profiles for this reason. Strength.
Examine the similar disk shaped concavity of the wheels. The apparent “toe-in” of the wheels is a result of axle design – that brings each spoke perpendicular to the road as it begins to bear weight.
There were other important innovations which automobiles inherited from coaches and wagons. Rubber tires, spring suspension and luxurious padded upholstery were all invented for carriages and coaches; long before working automobiles were ever imagined. Ornate coachwork, traffic horns, illuminating carriage lamps, and convertible or landau tops; are all embellishments that modern automobiles would inherit, not primarily inspire. Even the paved, hard-packed road surfaces that today’s automobiles urgently require in order to function, were previously inspired by generations of wheeled, horse drawn coaches.
Surprisingly, pneumatic tires using rubber were created and used before solid rubber tires were. The whole history of rubber seems a bit convoluted and unclear though. About 3,000 years ago the “Olmecs” of pre-Columbian Mezoamerica were playing a ballgame using an elastic rubber ball made of boiled tree sap. A different tree sap from the “India rubber tree” (Ficus elastica) from Southeast Asia, was once used as a lesser source of rubber by the Chinese. Then there is the once famous “Gutta-percha” tree from Malaysia who’s latex can produce either an elastic rubber-like polymer or a hard natural thermoplastic. Christopher Columbus might have been the first European to bring news or samples of the latex called caucho or caoutchouc (natural or Amazonian rubber) back from the Americas.
The western world had known of the existence of natural rubber for a couple centuries before they started importing the curious tree sap in any quantity. It was a gum, it was a glue, it stretched, it bounced back and it was waterproof. Early in the 1800’s, multitudinous would be inventors were searching for commercial uses for the flexible novelty. Some short lived rubber companies were formed; that made life preservers, rubber shoes, garter belts, doped water-proof tarps and clothing and so on. A cotton fire hose lined with soft rubber was invented in 1821. But these products were ultimately disappointingly unsuccessful because the physical characteristics of raw rubber changed with the climate. In cold weather raw rubber became rock hard and brittle. In hot temperatures raw rubber would turn into a gooey, sticky mess.
After many trials and tribulations Charles Goodyear was the first to partially succeed in solving the conundrum of rubber; but it bankrupted him. From 1831 to 1839 he was obsessed with rubber. His mixtures of raw rubber with quicklime, magnesia powder and nitric acid, showed some promise. The best solution though came by accident, when he dropped a blob of raw rubber mixed with sulfur onto a hot stove. Goodyear and employer/partner Nathaniel Hayward share an 1839 patent for “vulcanized rubber”. A few years later in 1844 Goodyear gained another patent – for the perfection of the vulcanizing process; by using mechanical mixing to replace the need for solvents.
By the time Robert William Thomson patented the first pneumatic tire in 1845, Goodyear’s vulcanized rubber was already appreciated in Europe. In his patent applications Thomson mentions using either sulfured caoutchouc or gutta-percha to rubberize a canvas belt, which would function as a tube or air bladder. (Some collapsible canvas fire hoses are made the same way today – with a rubber lining on the inside). The rubberized canvas – “elastic belt” was enclosed within a strong outer casing or sleeve of leather which was actually bolted to the wheel itself. Thomson’s “tyres” or “Aerial Wheels” were demonstrated on coaches and carriages in 1847, and worked very well. They were just too laborsome to make inexpensively and too novel an idea to catch on at the time. Thomson’s invention might be called “pneumatic leather tires” rather than rubber ones. Forty years later John Boyd Dunlop would patent the first “pneumatic rubber tire” in 1888; intended for bicycles – not automobiles. Solid or “hard” rubber tires in the meantime were certainly an improvement over iron tires, and had already been in use for couple of decades before pneumatic tires appeared in number.
* G.F. Bauer registered a patent for the first wire tension wheel spoke, in 1802. The first all metal tension wheel was patented in 1869 by Eugene Meyer. The first patent for “rubberized wheels” was granted to Clément Ader in 1868. The first “velocipedes” with wire wheels and hard rubber tires, generally began showing up after 1873.
By the time the American “Rubber Tire Wheel Co.” was established in 1894, the English had already been importing mass manufactured wheels mounted with solid rubber tires; across the ocean, for several years. But those tires were glued onto the wheels, and eventually slipped off. Still, on brick or cobblestone roads; rubber tires absorbed vibrations much better than iron tires and made the carriages pull a little easier too.
The Rubber Tire Wheel Co. (soon to become Kelly-Springfield Tire) invented and patented a superior way to mount a hard rubber tire to a wooden wheel and make it stay.
Rubber tire companies <trivia>
– In 1869 Benjamin Goodrich bought the Hudson River Rubber Company and moved its assets to Akron, Ohio to form the BFGoodrich company in 1870. Fist concentrating on improved fire hoses and rubberized belts for industry and agriculture, to eventually pneumatic bicycle and automobile tires by 1896. The company was certainly helped by Henry Ford’s decision to source his first tires from them.
– In 1871 the “Continental-Caoutchouc– und Gutta-Percha Compagnie” was founded in Hanover, Germany; and would concentrate on the fabrication of soft rubber products, rubberized fabrics and solid tires for carriages and bicycles. It would merge with other rubber companies and become known as “Continental Gummi-Werke AG”. The company (now called Continental AG) would acquire General Tire in 1987 and become the 4th largest tire maker in the world today.
– Back in 1872, the tire maker known today as Pirelli, was founded in Milan, Italy. Giovanni Pirelli initially specialized in rubber products such as insulated wire cables, solid tires and curiously scuba diving rebreathers. Pioneering diving engineer Henry Fleuss would patent and fabricate a working “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus” (SCUBA) in 1878. His apparatus required rubber for the face mask and breathing bag, and would use fabric soaked in potassium hydroxide (caustic potash) to act as a filter to scrub or separate the oxygen exhaled from a diver’s breath – and then re-circulate it. In 1878!
– In 1889 the Michelin brothers of France, improved the pneumatic bicycle tire by designing one that wasn’t glued on, but could be easily removed (Dunlop’s invention was only a year old at the time). The brothers had inherited a family company on the verge of insolvency, which had been making some vulcanized rubber products for farm equipment. BFGoodrich and Uniroyal were absorbed by Michelin in 1990, and today it is the largest tire manufacturer in the world.
– In 1892 Uniroyal Inc. (United States Rubber Company before 1961) was formed by the merger of nine smaller rubber companies in, Naugatuck, Connecticut. At first the company focused on rubber-soled shoes and canvas-top “sneakers”. Years later a scientist employed by the company invented “Ameripol” (a cheaper version of synthetic rubber) that greatly assisted the allied war effort in WWII. Uniroyal was purchased by Michelin in 1990.
– In 1894 the Kelly-Springfield Tire Company (owners Edwin S. Kelly with Arthur W. Grant, both citizens of Springfield, Ohio) was launched as a firm initially named “The Rubber Tire Wheel Co.”. The company was intimately associated with quality solid rubber tires for coaches and buggies, sold to an American market. In fact Grant and Kelly patented a product that would stay on the wooden wagon wheel, when other tires eventually slipped off. Their design included a metal U-shaped channel that was bolted to the wooden felloes of wheel. Then strong wires running in channels inside the rubber tire, were drawn tightly and fixed to hold the rubber down. In 1899 The Rubber Tire Wheel Company was sold and renamed “Consolidated Rubber Tire Company”. By 1914 the company was also making pneumatic tires and was again renamed to “Kelly-Springfeld Tire Company”. Kelly-Springfield was absorbed by Goodyear in 1935.
– In 1898 “The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company” was founded, and based in Akron, Ohio. Charles Goodyear’s name was borrowed – he had no association with the company. The company initially made rubber horseshoes, bicycle tires, and solid carriage tires. The Goodyear also made airships (or blimps) and balloons. The company is still independent, still in Akron and is the 3rd largest tire maker in the world at present.
– In 1900 Firestone was founded in Akron, Ohio (like BF Goodrich, Uniroyal and Goodyear before it) and initially began making solid tires that mimicked The Rubber Tire Wheel patent without breaking it. Henry Ford began sourcing his rubber tires from Firestone, in 1906. The Japanese corporation Bridgestone bought Firestone in 1988.
– In 1915 General Tire began life as “The General Tire & Rubber Company”. The company was founded in Akron,Ohio of all places, by a previous Firestone franchise owner and some previous Firestone employees. General Tire was absorbed by the German tire maker – Continental AG in 1987.
– By 1921 there were at least 330 tire companies in the world. This is but a very short list of some of the bigger and more noticeable tire companies. Several of these large successful rubber companies began by making solid rubber tires for coaches, buggies and velocipedes. A bicycle is technically just a special type of velocipede; the first ones being called “safety bicycles” because they were definitely safer than penny farthings. In America the rubber importers that specialized in tires were concentrated mostly in just two locations, where access to shipping lanes was important. First in Naugatuck, Connecticut where Uniroyal was formed by the merger of nine smaller rubber companies, and second in Akron, Ohio – which is not on the shoreline of Lake Erie, but has access to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Laurence Seaway. Akron was once a center of airship development (because of Goodyear blimps; and two Zeppelins were built there for Germany) and was nicknamed the “Rubber Capital of the World”.
– In 1931 Japanese tire maker Bridgestone was started up by an owner of a clothing company. His first notion before tires was to dip the traditional Japanese “tabi” socks in rubber so that they could be worn outside as work shoes. Today these are called “Jika-tabi”. The company made tires for the Japanese military during WWII and afterwards made bicycles, mopeds and tires to fit the same as well as motorcycle tires. Bridgestone bought Firestone in 1988 and now the 90 year old company is the second largest producer of rubber tires in the world.
Long before the advent of the automobile, some streets in larger cities might have been cobble-stoned or paved with brick. But the quality of road surfaces quickly diminished in direct proportion to distance from those cities. An unimproved dirt road outside of town usually became a nearly impassable quagmire following a rain, and in winter that dirt road remained wet longer than it would have in warm weather. The Romans realized this two thousand years ago.
There is an old idiom that states: “All roads lead to Rome”. While the expression can have multiple meanings, primarily it was an observation that Rome was the hub of a sprawling road system. The Romans built these quality, hard packed paved roads for sensible reasons; to promote commerce, to allow their legions to travel swiftly throughout the empire and also to occupy or employ their legionaries that might have gone idle otherwise. At its peak Rome had 113 provinces, 372 roads interconnecting those provinces and 29 great military highways radiating from the capitol itself. In fact the Romans constructed some 50,000 miles (80,000km) of superior hard packed roads throughout their empire. Their best paved highways were called “via munita”. The Romans built less expensive gravel roads too, called “via glareata”; most of which are paved over now.
As centuries passed and populations grew, the need for more roads increased. Unlike the wide wheels on wagons used for hauling freight, carriage wheels for hauling people grew progressively thinner and more lightweight. Light weight meant less work for the draft animals and increased speed. Carriage wheels were usually tall too, because tall wheels rolled easier. Affluent travelers riding in quick horse drawn, spring suspended barouches, borughams and cabriolets wanted roads with hard surfaces; for speed and comfort. They did not want their narrow coach wheels to sink down into road ruts or mud.
John McAdam was a Scottish engineer who’s name became particularly associated with road surfaces. Looking for a more economic method to construct hard roads than the preceding Romans or other road builders used, he importantly focused upon water drainage to keep the road surface dry. The “macadam” road that he pioneered and that is named after him even to this day; was built up higher than the surrounding soil, had drainage ditches on both sides and was humped or cambered in the middle. Initially he used two courses of crushed gravel; specifying that the bottom course of gravel be of 3” gravel (depth 8” thick) and the top course of 1” gravel (layer 2” thick). Significantly, the gravel he specified was not just any old round river gravel but specifically crushed gravel; which would compress and interlock together. There were no mechanical rock crushers in those days so teams of laborers crushed the rock by hand, using hammers. Later on other road engineers would add fine stone dust (leftovers gathered from rock crushing) and water to the road top, before using weighted rollers to compress the new surface.
When faster moving automobiles arrived, they sped over these macadamized roads and succeeded in pulling up a lot of dust from the surface. Because of that dust, successive road builders began to apply binders like coal tar, oil, or viscous petroleum tar to the surface of what are still called “macadam roads”. “Tarmac” was originally such a road, with asphalt oil (tar) poured or sprayed over the gravel and then everything covered with course sand or “crusher fines”. Asphalt is the heaviest petroleum fraction, and is the last thing left behind after petroleum distillation. The word tarmac is also associated with airstrip runways, regardless of the paving technique used at airports now. Using heat to make the sludge more viscous, today’s “blacktop” or “asphalt paving” is mixed from fine crushed gravel and asphalt tar, to a uniformity, before being “lay-ed down” and rolled out.
Today we have millions of miles of good hard surfaced roads, leading off in every which direction imaginable. We have developed fast and sophisticated vehicles to exploit those good roads but mainly those vehicles are utterly reliant upon having prepared roads. For travel over worthwhile distances, modern vehicles are simply not optimized to negotiate soft, uncompacted, unimproved dirt. Even the brawniest looking, balloon tired “off-road 4×4” will have a miserable time negotiating mud for any distance. Yet yesteryear’s pioneer wagon, drawn by ox or mules did this successfully; day in and day out. Without roads or bridges or refueling stations, those wagons circumvented rocks and trees, rivers and streams and canyons and mountains.
Just as new developments in automobile technology are shared across the oceans today, wagon technology was shared or imitated between nations in the past, too. In the 18th century there would have been few differences between a freight wagon in France or Germany and a counterpart in America. Passenger carriages however, differed a little more widely. The fancy, ornate carriages like those owned by the elites in Europe were far less common in America because they were impractical, considering the overall lack of decent roads. In America there was not a preexisting road system (often built atop the labor of thoughtful Romans from centuries before) so American passenger coaches and personal buggies were usually less refined and more austere than those in Europe.
A large, unique type of freight wagon called the “Conestoga” would be developed by German immigrants in Pennsylvania; long before the American Revolutionary War. Like wagons elsewhere intended for freight, the huge Conestogas had no seat or provision for a rider, but the driver, muleskinner (occupational cuss-er) or bullwacker (ox driver and professional cuss-er) generally walked alongside on the left side of the draft animals. Thousands of Conestogas (and wagons copying the style) were made between the early 1700s and the arrival of railroads much later. The typical Conestoga weighed about two tons empty and could carry about six tons of freight. The boat hull shaped “box” of an authentic Conestoga was usually painted blue and the “running gear” and wheels were red. The uniquely shaped box was typically 3’10” wide and 12′ long at its bottom and 16′ long at the top. With its canvas cover included, the wagon stood over 11′ high.
East of the Mississippi river, teams of four to six horses were generally adequate to pull the heavy freight wagons. But west of the Ohio river valley and onward towards the riverfront/ frontier town of St Louis and beyond, mules and oxen soon became the favored draft animals. Mules simply made better draft animals than horses; had more stamina and endurance, thrived on lesser quality food and had less health problems than horses. Indians didn’t care to steal mules either. As a draft animal, a good mule was worth two or three times that of a horse. Mexican bred mules were to become the most desirable and curiously, were generally thought to be more intelligent than others. Likewise oxen (any cattle that have been trained as draft animals) were often preferred by teamsters. An ox was slower than a horse or mule, but day in and day out it got the job done – and for far less cost and maintenance. Oxen became the most common draft animals for pulling freight; simple economics.
After an underappreciated French explorer and frontiersman (Pierre Vial – in the 1790s) pioneered what would become known as the “Santa Fe Trail”, an important pipeline of freight commerce between central Missouri and California would ensue. Following the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the California Gold Rush (1848 – 1855) the sporadic traffic over the 800 – 900 mile long Santa Fe Trail, burgeoned into a veritable traffic jam by the standards of the day.
The largest and eventually most popular freight wagons used on the Santa Fe Trail were known as Murphy wagons. Theses quality made, heavy duty wagons were constructed of the best materials, by Joseph Murphy of St. Louis. Murphy’s first wagons were freight wagons for the Santa Fe trade, sold @ $130.00 each. They mimicked Conestogas but were made even larger and stronger to haul more freight; instigated by need because of a very high tax imposed upon single wagon-loads, by the corrupt Governor of the Mexican territory at the time. The largest of these wagons had boxes that were 16′ long, 8′ wide, 7′ deep and could easily carry 10 tons of freight. The rear wheels on these wagons were sometimes 10 ft. tall and 8 inches wide to provide more flotation in sandy or soft soils. The Murphy iron tires were made double thick. Teams of at least 12 oxen were commonly used to pull the big wagons.
_* If one were to compare the freight hauling capacity of a modern day “pickup truck” to one of these old fashioned wood wagons – he might be surprised by a few simple facts.
– Forty years ago a “½ ton” truck rating usually meant that a given pickup could accommodate 1,000 pounds of freight (or weight in the back) without breaking. Today pickups are built heavier and stronger and so can usually safely handle payloads bigger than that. The government has specified eight general classifications of trucks based upon what they call GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). GVWR is the sum of the truck’s own weight (curb weight) and what it is expected to carry safely (payload). The payloads in GVWR ratings are generally underrated significantly – to err on the side of safety.
– Using the popular Ford F-150 pickup as a typical example of a “full sized”, ½ ton, light duty truck; it would be determined that it fits into Category 2, because of a GVWR floating around 8,500 lbs. The curb weight near 4,900 lbs and the payload nearer 1.4 tons, than ½ ton. A heavier F-250 (¾ ton) pickup might rate right at the cusp of Category 3 with a curb weight of 6,586 lbs, a payload of 2 tons (4,260 lbs) and a total GVWR of 10,864 lbs.
_ So if that conservative estimate of payload for a ¾ ton pickup were bumped up some, today’s heavy duty pickup might be able to handle without breaking; almost one quarter of the weight that an old fashioned freight-wagon (made mostly of wood) was dealing with every day.
On the other side of Santa Fe, using just two wheels to come up from the south, was a different type of freight vehicle called a “carreta”. The oldest road in the continental US is the “El Camino Real” (“The King’s Highway” or “The Royal Road”). The entire four hundred year old – 1,600 mile long route extended from Mexico City to a little northwest of Santa Fe. Only 25% of the route lies within the US boundary. The route was blazed 1581.
Seventeen years later in 1598, Juan Juan de Onate would lead a colonial expedition over the route. Among these first settlers were “129 soldiers and their families, Franciscan friars, farmers, laborers, servants and slaves”. Some 83 primitive and ponderous “carretas” (2 wheeled carts) were used. In the centuries to follow, the large ox drawn carretas and increasingly some mule drawn wagons too, assembled together in Mexico City to form large “conductas” (caravans) for their annual supply and trading trip to Santa Fe and back. Sometimes hundreds of people and thousands of animals would accompany the caravans. Since the one-way trip took about 6 months, the cycle between round trips was probably more like one and a half years. The big ox drawn carts were notoriously noisy; their squeaking could be heard from miles away before they arrived. The primitive wheels were not intended to be removed and there was no metal or grease between axles and hubs to reduce friction.
The “El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro” (the royal road to the interior lands) was closed down for a dozen years, between the “Pueblo Revolt” (1680) and the “Reconquista” (1692). Between the 1770s and 1820s, caravans were conducted by private contractors that preferred to use trains of pack mules, rather than carts or wagons. Before the 1820s, contact or commerce with American colonies had been vigorously discouraged by Spain. When Mexico won its independence from Spain (1821); trading with Americans opened up. New Mexico was only a part of an “independent Mexico” for 25 years. Following the war between Mexico and the US (1846), the 400 mile long American section of the Camino Real down to El Paso at least, saw consistent use of the same large Murphy type freight wagons which were also being used going northward on the Santa Fe Trail. Until the railroad arrived in 1881, anyway.
The “Llano Estacado” or “Staked Plains” is a big 30,000 square mile flat spot between Texas and New Mexico. The plateau might have been named for the long escarpments along its edges or it might have been named for explorers or settlers marking off distances with wood stakes or piles of stone, to delineate boundaries decreed by Spanish land grants.
Irregardless of how the name did originate, it brings to mind a simple way of marking distances that some settlers apparently used. By tying a knot of rope around the rim at one place on a cart or wagon wheel, each rotation of the wheel during travel would leave a mark in the dirt; and meanwhile the rotations could be easily counted. Providing the wheel was of a certain diameter, then relatively accurate measurements of distances could be made. Every furlong in a survey could be marked by stakes or other markers. A pile of white buffalo skulls might have made good mile marker, visible from a distance on the Staked Planes.
* Old Spanish units of length were usually a little shorter than the traditional British Imperial units that Americans still use. A Spanish “vara” in Texas measured only 33 inches; compared to a normal 36 inch “yard”.
* Considering that circumference =[ 3.14159 x d] then a wheel 5.25 ft. tall, would accurately measure the distance of one “rod” (16.5ft.) with each revolution.
* In medieval times, acreage was determined by the amount of soil that a team of oxen could comfortably plow in a day. Since it was difficult to reverse directions with a team and plow, the acre was originally conceived as being a rather long but narrow rectangular plot, rather than being square. The acre was defined as an area one “chain” wide, by one “furlong” (10 chains) long. There are 4 rods in a chain and 10 chains (40 rods) in a furlong (a furrow is long). The rod again being 16.5 ft., meant that the idealized acre (1 chain x 10 chains) or (4 rods x 40 rods) equaled (66 ft. x 660 ft.) or 43,560 square feet. Also: there are 8 furlongs to the mile and 640 acres to the square mile.
In the 19th century there were literally thousands of different wagon and coach makers in America. Some of the wagon manufactures worked out of little more than small blacksmith shops but about 20 or 30 of the larger wagon companies employed hundreds or even thousands of workers. America needed and therefore built more wagons than any other country during the 19th century. Immigrants flocked to the nation by the millions because of the perception that a continent full of empty land was free and available for the taking. But becoming a pioneer and preparing for a long, perilous overland journey required a sobering investment in both time and money saved. Dependable wagons and draft animals were hugely expensive investments for families that might have earned less than $30 income per month.
Between the 1840s to the 1860’s the “Oregon Trail” was a trip through the wilderness made by perhaps 300,000 to 400,000 people. It took about four to five hard months to complete the 2,170 mile journey (from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon). It should be safe to say that tens of thousands of “prairie schooners” made the trip. A prairie schooner or “covered wagon” was a uniquely American style of wagon. It was generally like a Conestoga wagon but cut-down to about half that size. Since wagons were made by many different makers, they varied some in shape and feature and durability. When investing in a wagon for crossing the wilderness, the smart buyer would no doubt have chosen one that could serve as a dependable tool once the final destination was reached.
A typical prairie schooner-covered wagon could carry about 2,500 pounds of cargo and still be pulled by 4 to 6 oxen. Large diameter wheels in the back made the wagon easier to roll over obstacles like logs, rocks or creek bottoms; while the smaller wheels on the front axle allowed the wagons to turn sharply. The sheets of cotton canvas draped over the wagon tops, looked like ships’ sails in the distance; hence the name ‘schooner’. The cotton duck canvas canopies were usually an undyed natural white (as were most ship sails). The canvas obviously protected food and goods from the elements but it also made a very useful emergency shelter for people.
* The textile term “duck” comes from the Dutch word doek, which refers to a linen canvas once used for sailors’ white trousers and outerwear. * Duct tape, often erroneously called “duck tape,” was nonetheless originally manufactured by adding an adhesive backing to regular cotton duck.
The first stage line in England started up more than 400 years ago. Independent stage lines existed all over Europe and all over eastern America before they showed up in western America. Stagecoach lines were equivalent to the public bus lines of today and in many places they were contracted to carry the mail. “Stages” of course were segments of a route, where every 10-20 miles the coach would stop to rest or exchange horses and people. In the American west or in other remote, isolated locations where people still wanted to travel and could pay, stage lines continued to operate into the 1920’s. By that time rail roads, affordable automobiles and motor-buses, displaced the stagecoaches. Neither did all stagecoaches look as good nor were they as comfortable as those seen in Hollywood’s western films. The Concord coaches seen in most western movies, would have been considered luxurious for their era, and were not as numerous as the less expensive but equally functional vehicles were.
* At one time four different companies made “Concord Coaches” (in Concord, New Hampshire). The best ones were made by Abbot & Downing and their reputation was such that they exported their coaches to places like Bolivia, Australia and South Africa. Beginning in 1827, Abbot and Downing’s coaches were styled from contemporary English coaches, but added several improvements; especially including the suspension of the whole coach body well above the axles – on long leather straps known as “thoroughbraces”. This improved suspension changed a normally bumpy ride into a more tolerable rocking chair like motion.
Whether made by Abbot & Downing or not, coaches from Concord, New Hampshire were made in 6, 9 and 12 passenger seat models. Some models had running lamps and glass windows; those used in the west usually had no glass, but unbreakable leather curtains that could be rolled up or down. The exteriors of these lavish coaches were decorated with custom scroll-work trim and with paintings of landscapes, while the interiors were lined and upholstered with comfortable russet leather or plush (a fuzzy velvet like- nap or pile). A full bodied Concord stagecoach for 9 passengers would weigh 3,000 lbs., carry 4,000 lbs. and cost $1,400. Some of these luxury coaches have been restored or have been protected from the ravages of time; and now outnumber the utilitarian versions that were once more common.
As stated earlier, less comfortable, less expensive and lighter coaches called “Celerity wagons”, “mud-wagons” or “stage-wagons”; would have been drafted to do the majority of work for stage lines.
Another major artery of westward migration was first called “Cooke’s Wagon Road” and later the “Gila Trail”. Pioneers with covered wagons were not so numerous on this route as they were on the Oregon Trail, but thousands of adventurers did use it; especially early prospectors from southern states in a hurry to reach the gold fields in California. The Gila Trail (or Kearny Trail – a military road carved and made wagon passable by Lt. Colonel George Cooke and his temporarily indentured Mormon Battalion in 1846-47) ran about 750 miles from Santa Fe, NM to San Diego,Ca. The Santa Fe Trail and the Gila Trail together (900+ 750 miles) became the primary communication link, stagecoach transportation and freight-supply route back and forth from California to the rest of nation in the east. A route open year around because it did not get blocked by winter snow.
Mail contracts were lucrative and sometimes a more steady revenue than passenger service. See the ***Star Route Service***.
The San Antonio–San Diego Mail Line was the first company to carry US mail from southern California; (in stagecoaches, over part of the Gila Trail) to southern Texas. The “Jackass Mail” operated between 1857 and 1861, took 30 days to make a trip one way. Until way stations were established, the first few mail deliveries were made by pack mule. But as one northern California newspaperman complained, the San Antonio–San Diego Mail “ran from no place, through nothing, to no where”.
Butterfield and Company’s “Overland Mail” carried mail back and forth to California over the Gila trail, on a much more regular basis. From 1858 to 1861 (the beginning of the Civil War) it took an individual letter or passenger (from San Francisco) about 25 days to reach either St Louis or Memphis or vice-versa. The route to either was about 2,800 miles (462 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles – then about 2,238 more to either St Louis or Memphis (which are north and south of each other, on the same river and about 240 miles apart). A stagecoach in the twice weakly service, averaged 5 miles per hour and covered 120 miles a day. The trip was a physical ordeal for passengers that payed $200 to go west or half that much to return east.
* John Butterfield owned an operated some 40 small stage-lines in the east. His name and reputation would be instrumental in winning the $600,000 US mail contract awarded by Congress in 1857. Butterfield owned only part of the Butterfield “Overland Mail” company; other investors included William F. Fargo and Henry Wells. Butterfield was forced out by Wells and Fargo in 1860 and they in turn were compelled to move the mail and passenger line northward by the impending Civil War.
In 1860 the “Pony Express” was begun to carry mail more expediently from northern California to the east and back. It took 10 days for Pony Express mail to cover the 1,900 miles between Sacramento, CA to St. Joseph, MO. The route roughly followed the Humbolt Trail and part of the Oregon trail. It cost 250 times the normal postage rate to send a letter by Pony Express. The first transcontinental telegraph and arrival of the Civil War, put the Pony Express out of business 18 months later, in 1861.
* The holdings of The Pony Express company were then acquired by Ben Holliday who was able to acquire a postal contract for mail service to Salt Lake City, Utah; and who also established the Overland Stage Route (different route than Butterfield’s route to the south). In 1866 “Wells Fargo Express” purchased the Overland Stage Company from Holliday. Wells Fargo became top dog; owning both Overland stage lines and the mail contracts in the west.
* Wells Fargo & Company became the world’s largest bank in 2015. The next year though it sank to 4th largest (after JP Morgan Chase & Company, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited, Bank of America and Citigroup). Probably because of some shenanigans it pulled. (Wells Fargo created millions of fraudulent checking and savings accounts on behalf of their clients; without informing their clients).
A replica Pony Express “mochila”. Each of the four pouches had a lock hasp and lock.
* Pony Express riders could not weigh over 125 pounds. They rode day or night – nonstop except to change horses, at stations roughly 10 miles apart. There were about 184 stations along the 1,900 mile route; 400 special horses and 80 young riders that switched out every 75–100 miles.
* There was a subtle change some months ago, in the manner that WordPress handled thumbnail enlargements. Instead of presenting full enlargements, they now present smaller, less satisfactory enlargements (to make room for advertising “App Store” and “Google Play” buttons). For the many thumbnails to follow; closing the window and selecting the thumbnail a second time should produce the full picture as intended.
“Buggy”, “coach” and “carriage” are in-specific terms that bring no clear image to mind. Many names in many languages for carriages, have gone unused and are forgotten now. How many once common terms are still recognizable today? What were the distinctive differences between a Barouche, Brougham, Buckboard, Cabriolet, Calash, Dogcart, Governess Cart, Jaunting Car, Landau, One-horse Shay, Phaeton, Sulky and a Surry? Following is just a representative sampling of some of the better known carriages types.
_ A Barouche was a luxury 4-seater, where the passengers faced each other. The carriage driven by a coachman in the back, is open although usually a collapsible half-hood could be pulled up over the back seat.
_ A Brougham was an English, light, enclosed, glass windowed four-wheeled carriage.
_ A Buckboard was a very minimal utility vehicle usually pulled by one horse. Having 4 wheels, a seat and a few boards connecting the two axles together. Unlike other carriages, there were no springs between the axles and the platform of boards. What suspension there was came from the flexibility of the floor boards and (usually) leaf springs mounted under the bench seat. Between the boards flexing and the springs, a ride over rough terrain could get very bouncy (hence buck).
Later wagons might be called buckboards yet have upright boards along the edge of the bed to hold cargo. These later wagons would generally still have no suspension other than the springs under the seat. The buckboard was the forerunner of today’s mini or economy pickup; useful for running into town and back real quick – to pick up the mail, some groceries or something from the hardware store.
_ As stated earlier, “buggy” is a very general term. Usually it means a very lightweight vehicle for one or two passengers and pulled by one or two horses. Some Amish communities today build buggies, which are legally equipped to use today’s road systems. The newest Amish or Mennonite buggies might feature a triangular – slow moving traffic warning sign, reflectors, manual windshield wiper, rear view mirrors, iron axles, drum and even disk brakes and sometimes even a small battery and electrical system for blinking turn indicators and LED headlights.
_ A Cabriolet was a light two wheeled carriage for hire, that was pulled by one horse. Originating in France the cabriolet was similar to a “Shay” except for the driver or groom which stood or sat overlooking from the back of the cab. The terms taxi-cab and hansom-cab come from the shortening of cabriolet.
_ A Coupe was a stylish carriage with a sloping body style, driver in front, bench seat for two passengers in enclosed cab, with windows on sides and front to look out. Longer and with more visibility than a brougham.
_ Coach has become a vague term, usually meaning any large heavy vehicle intended to carry passengers. A proper “state coach” as used on ceremonial occasions however, were usually heavy and non-maneuverable and therefore ponderous enough to not outpace the footmen that walked alongside them.
_ A Dogcart was originally intended as a lightweight transport for game hunters and their sporting dogs, which were carried in a box underneath the driver’s seat.
_ A Governess cart was a small washtub shaped cart that was safe for a lady to use. With a low center of gravity and with a gentle pony to pull it was unlikely to tip over or to allow young children to fall out.
_ Jaunting car was another 2-wheeled cart, pulled by a single horse; a pleasure vehicle for short excursions. The driver sat forward but the passengers sat back to back, with their legs hanging out over the wheels. Like the governess cart, the jaunting car was once very popular in Ireland.
_ The Landau is a luxury 4-wheeled carriage that is usually open topped, so that passengers can see out – but more importantly so that they (VIPs) can be seen by the public. The landau can accommodate 4 passengers – sitting face to face (vis-a-vis). The landau is similar to a barouche or “victoria” but differs in being a little heavier and more stately; and in possessing a full roof, which can be pulled up to protect the cab.
_ The Phaeton and shay both were stylish and tall wheeled but delicate buggies. Phaetons had 4-thin wheels while shays had only two. In the later part of the 19th century fashionable phaetons and shays were to become very popular runabouts in urban areas of America, where hard packed roads were becoming more common. Requiring usually only one horse, they were very lightweight and fast, but dangerous.
_ The Shay was a 2-wheeled cart that was pulled by one horse. The word “shay” comes from the French word for chair (chaise). What makes the ‘one horse shay’ different than the typical “gig” is that the shay should have a collapsible folding hood (or “calash top”).
_ A Sulky or “spider” or “bike” is a very minimal 2-wheeled cart used in harness racing. Today’s racing sulky has morphed into a low to the ground, small wheeled cart, where the driver sets so close to the back of the horse that he is in a position where he is unlikely to get kicked hard. There are two classifications of harness racing on most tracks; dependent upon the gait of the horses (trotter or pacer). A trotter moves diagonally paired legs simultaneously, but pacers move the legs on the same side of their bodies together. Trotters and pacers don’t compete against each other because pacers are a little faster and trotters cannot be trained to pace. The disposition of a pacer to move its legs in the unusual way it does, has recently been traced to the mutation of a specific gene. A harness race video.
_ A Surrey is a simple English inspired, 4-wheeled carriage with two forward facing bench seats, accommodating 4 people.
_ A Tarantass was a very long chassis style of coach used in Russia. Without using springs, suspension was achieved by the weight of the cab flexing long poles that connected front and back axles.
_ A Troika is less of a carriage type than it is of a peculiar type of Russian, horse harness. Whether a sleigh or wheeled carriage, a troika is distinguished by having three horses harnessed abreast. The center horse is positioned between shaft poles (as would be common for any single horse rig) but in addition might also be harnessed with a breastcollar and a “shaft bow”. The (Baltic) shaft-bow acts like a spring – pulling the shafts outward, theoretically improving workload conditions for the horse.
Anatomy of a Farm Wagon
One particular type of wagon became almost ubiquitous in America before the takeover by automobiles. In an age when more than half the country’s population lived on rural farms rather than in cities, almost every farm in every state – owned a work wagon. Perhaps called a “grain wagon” or a “buckboard”, this plain looking, utilitarian vehicle was the forerunner of the pickup truck. Farm wagons were made by the tens of thousands every year, by multiple manufacturers and often shared ‘off the shelf’ metal components in their fabrication. This type of wagon was still in demand and still being built into the 1940s, because metal was needed for the wartime production effort and gasoline at home was being rationed. Rare was a farm wagon that did not have red wheels. A “mountain wagon” looked similar but was of even heavier duty construction.
The illustrations nearby show wagons with boxes two high (roughly 2 – 2” x12” boards high); but configurations of one box or three boxes were just as common. Attached simply to the bolsters and bolster uprights, these boxes could be removed easily, so that the wagon could be reconfigured. Removing the bed or box would allow the bare “running gear” to haul long lumber or raw logs for example.
The running gear in these illustrations are of a later model Studebaker, which would represent a fairly ideal example of what a wagon with wooden axles and wooden wheels should look like. But the running gear of 20 other farm wagon makers would have looked much the same. *‘Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company’ became big after contracting to supply wagons to the US Army during the Civil War. At one point Studebaker was the largest coach-building company in the world. Because they made quality products. A barouche, landau and a surrey in some of the pictures far above for example; were made by Studebaker.
The metal used in wagons and carriages was kept to a minimum to limit weight. Most wagon makers would have sourced some metal components from suppliers or industries that specialized in metalwork. Parts like king and queen bolts, 5th wheel or bolster plates, lag bolts, hub nuts, cast iron skeins and hub boxing inserts. (These parts might have been supplied by metalworking manufacturers perhaps like John Deere & Company; established by a blacksmith who in 1837 pioneered the first self-scouring steel plow. Or metal parts from International Harvester – a company co-founded by Cyrus Hall McCormick – who had demonstrated an influential horse-drawn reaper in 1831). One thing for certain is that before the Civil War there would have been very few if any small town blacksmiths and wainwrights equipped with the expensive lathes needed for turning their own screws or threaded nuts and bolts.
Somewhere back in the 1850s the first iron “thimble skeins” were invented. These skeins (reminiscent of a sewing thimble to fit over a person’s finger) fit tightly and were lag bolted over the end of a wooden axle. The end of the skein is threaded. Running on and contacting the skein would be a metal “boxing” – which was pressed into the wheel’s wooden hub. A wrench would be needed to remove a hub nut and washer, before the wheel could be removed; so that the axle could then be lubricated. When properly lubricated with axle grease the skein/boxing interface produced minimal friction. It’s doubtful if tapered roller bearings would have preformed any better, had they existed.
This very practical German ladder wagon looks like it’s holding a tank for water or possibly milk. With the tank removed the wagon could be used to haul hay, or be reconfigured in several different ways.
_* Friedrich Fischer (German) invented a process for milling standard ball bearings in 1883. Henry Timken (US German immigrant) invented the tapered roller bearing in 1898. The boxing style axle worked just fine though and wheel bearings were seldom used in wagons or buggies even after their invention. Automobiles, yes. Wheel bearings are being used now in most modern buggies however.
Before the 1860s and before the proliferation of thimble skein axles – wagons used what are called “clouted axles” or “lynch pin axles”. A clout was “an iron plate let into the arm of a wooden axle’s underside to take the wear of the box in the revolving wheel”. There might have been a clout inlaid into the top of the wood axle too. So clouting the axle arm was “arming the arm of the axletree with iron plates to keep it from wearing”. A hole was drilled at the tip end of the axle so that a lynch pin or cotter pin and washer, could hold the wheel on. Wagons made from the 1700’s and before the 1860s, also probably had metal boxing in the wheel hubs – to ride on the clouts. Conestogas in the east and prairie-schooners going over the Oregon Trail (1840s-1860s) would have had these lynch pin type axles. Those axles need to be greased frequently, therefore a grease bucket accompanied most every wagon; usually slung from the rear axle.
_* Grease was hard to come by and therefore was used sparingly on pioneering wagons. Usually it was made from saponified tallow rendered from beef or mutton. Pine tar (from the distillation of turpentine) if it could be acquired was often used to preserve the animal tallow grease.
_ In the picture above (a) is a lynch pin/clouted type axle. (b) would be a later, skein and threaded hub nut type hub and axle (incidentally the threads on the right side would tighten in the normal clockwise or right handed twist method, but on the left side of almost all such wagons it was convention to reverse the threads. The theory was – that since the wagon moves forward predominately that counterclockwise threads on the left side, kept the nuts snug and the wheel from falling off). (c) are examples of the very influential “Sarven hub”, patented in 1857. These hubs, sandwiched spokes tightly between flanged collars and by doing so allowed for improved, thinner carriage wheels. Sarven style hubs quickly became dominant and are manufactured today. (d) examples of the “Archibald hub”, also frequently called an “artillery hub”. Archibald hubs look like beefed up and burlier improvements of the Sarven hub but the two might have co-developed at the same time. Stout Archibald hubs along with iron axles are found on almost all US Army wagons made from the 1870s onward. It seems that “artillery wheels” predate both types (Sarven and Archibald) by several decades (e) Hubs from a 1913 Ford Model T; identical in manufacture to some artillery wheels.
Unlike wagon wheels with iron tires that were deformed into a concave dish shape by the shrinking metal when it was cooled, the even stronger artillery wheels didn’t necessarily have that concavity. The way that the hefty spokes were mitered and jammed together tightly in a locking keystone fashion, left no slack in the center. Hot iron tires might have been fitted in the normal manner, but the wheel did not deform. In addition the tires were often bolted to the felloes of these wheels anyway. Artillery wheels needed to be extremely strong. Iron and bronze cannons were extremely heavy. On the battlefield, wheeled cannons were often hurriedly dragged to location by teams of horses and then wrestled into position by teams of desperate men, who often grasped at the wheel spokes to yank a heavy cannon around in the mud. You don’t want such a wheel to come apart in your hands.
Napoleon was employing “shoot and scoot” tactics, using lightweight “horse artillery” some 200 years ago. Of course Napoleon picked up some of his ideas from “Old Fritz” (Fredric the Great) who had created the first regular horse artillery units, a generation before. Differing from regular field artillery that was also horse drawn, horse artillery units were a hybrid of cavalry and artillery. These mobile and fast moving units usually worked in unison with cavalry, lending fire support. Crews were trained to dismount, shoot some, remount and then split as quickly as possible. For example horse artillery could be used to arrive from seemingly nowhere, shoot into and break up enemy infantry formations on the march, which then allowed friendly cavalry to rush in and attack the disarranged enemy. In the meantime the cavalry attack would give the horse artillery the opportunity to pack up and leave.
Horse artillery units could usually be distinguished from heavier artillery units by the smaller size of the cannon they pulled but also by the fact that everyone in the unit was mounted on a horse. By contrast, in regular field artillery units some of the crew-members rode on the limber or caisson. A limber was a two wheeled axle or cart that the tail of a cannon was hitched to and supported by, during transit. A caisson was a little bit bigger than a limber, and usually could be used as a limber, if need be. A limber usually carried one ammunition box and trailed a cannon or caisson. A caisson carried two ammunition boxes and required its own limber (total of 3 boxes).
Typical support for one field cannon then; was a crew of at least 6 men, one caisson, 2 limbers and 4 boxes full of cannonballs and gunpowder. Emptied of their boxes and other cargo, the limber and caisson combination was frequently used as an ambulance to carry casualties to the field hospital or in recent times to carry caskets in funeral processions.
Some of the prefabricated iron parts that independent farm wagon makers might have sourced rather than forged themselves were the “bolster plates” or 5th wheel. The bolster plate was an evolution from previous and simpler iron straps mounted to the top of the “sand board” and the bottom of the “front bolster”. Eventual improvements to the bolster plates made them round and wheel like, so the assembly became known as a 5th wheel. This was the pivot point that the king pin ran through, where the reach to the back axle connected and where the front axle was allowed to turn. Whether circular or not, bolster plates are often called 5th wheels, retroactively.
The quick connect / disconnect couplings found on modern highway truck tractors and goose-neck trailers, inherited the “5th wheel” name from wood wagons made 4 or 5 generations ago. The rugged lunntte ring and pintle hook tow hitches used by modern military trucks and off-road enthusiast, were used by horse drawn artillery carriages centuries ago.
This illustration was done during the grand opening of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1875. The inset in the upper left of the picture shows arriving or departing coaches in the interior, sky-lit Grand Court entrance. No traffic control in the streets. Several types of carriage are visible outside in the street; including a landau, a barouche, a brougham and a shay.
There are many different ways to rig effective harnesses. A collar that fits over an animals head and neck, is the soft padding and the second part of the collar system is the hames – made of wood or metal and featuring rings or attachment points for trace lines and other straps. Alternatively a breast collar suspended by a neck strap might carry the pulling load. A small padded saddle suspends the two buggy shafts. Trace lines from the collar pull the buggy but breaching over the horse’s rump prevents the buggy from running into the back of the draft animal on downgrades or stops. Terrets are simply rings on the harness that guide reins. An overcheck or check-rein runs over the top of a horses head while a bearing-rein might run lower at mid jaw; both are intended to control the horses head – preventing it from dropping too far.
The yellow lines approximately depict the middle mass of a horse, and also the place (at the withers) where additional weight should be distributed. The sulky in the 1st photo is being suspended by, and being entirely pulled by contact with a tight bearing strap and girth. The breast collar on this animal might as well not be there. In the second picture, the jockey maintains a high balanced position above the center mass of the horse. Notice how short (high) the stirrups are. During a race the jockey makes no contact with the saddle seat but rides with his legs. At the start of a race the jockey’s position is shifted far forward while the horse is accelerating.
All manner of beast have been put to the test as draft animals.
Usually the biggest and strongest animals of a 4 horse or larger draft team, will be at the back, nearest the wagon or carriage. The “wheelers” support the wagon’s tongue or center pole and also commonly carry the only breaching straps. The “leaders” in front seldom support a center pole between them and therefore may or may not have full collars.