Mail Wagon - part 8

by brae  

With the front and rear axle assemblies and wheels made, I can start to build the cabin. I've pretty much been researching mail wagons since I started down this path, and there was no standard type of wagon over the years. RFD was such a novel thing, though horse wagons were not, it really was each man for himself. So, I get a lot of room to play.

There were sliding doors and front windows that could be lowered into the front wall.

image from The Smithsonian

There were hinged doors.

There were hinged windows and mail slots.

If you look at the original wagons from the postcard, there was no room in front - just the window wall.

Postcard from 1917 showing RFD horse wagons - image used with permission

There were built in heaters and portable heaters.

image from The Henry Ford

One great source is Horse Drawn Mail Vehicles by James H. Bruns.

Look at this tiny thing that's barely a box built around a chair and a heater! Where did the mail fit? I'm also pretty sure only one horse was needed. :]

from Horse Drawn Mail Vehicles by James H. Bruns

I set up my wheels and axles with Jebediah and one of my artist models. I can probably back Jebediah to the wagon a bit more, but this total span is 17 inches from his nose to the back of the wheels.

The span from the axle centers is 5.5 inches. Having a very narrow space between the wheels for the mail carrier to enter the wagon was not uncommon.

I won't be using the Rondel kit, but here is that cabin in dry fit for size comparison (obviously not this tall).

This should be a good gauge for overall size, though.

I'll need to make the cabin as light as possible since the axles are fairly delicate, but I can layer thin wood to get good detailing without adding a lot of weight.


Comment from: Sheila Lester [Visitor]
If you're going for light weight maybe cardstock or mat board? With wood strips for the corners? Though some of the mat board weighs just as much as basswood. Can't wait to see more!
09/01/19 @ 23:19
Comment from: Barbara [Visitor]
This is a fascinating build to watch. I love the old photos - especially the "dual engine" cart.
09/02/19 @ 00:20
Comment from: Debora L. [Visitor]
I love these old vehicles and what you are doing.
09/02/19 @ 03:26
Comment from: Kamelia [Visitor]
What an intresting post! Thank you for sharing all the details.
09/02/19 @ 14:47
Comment from: Marijke Rolink [Visitor]
Nice to see your research love the postcabinet!!! have a nice day, groetjes van Marijke
09/06/19 @ 05:59
Comment from: ann [Visitor]
Your attention to detail and authenticity makes the project especially interesting and unique, fit for museum display.
09/07/19 @ 12:32
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you! :>>

I'm using basswood, but thinner than the usual weight I would use in building. It will be fine with the added trim for stability. Mat board is very heavy, and I do want some wood grain to show through the faux lead paint. :))
09/09/19 @ 13:18

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