Category: "Model Cars & Airplanes"

Mail Wagon - part 10

by brae  

Just a quick note that another miniaturist is making the doctor's buggy - but she is making it right out of the box. Be sure to check out Farmors miniature!
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Continuing work on the mail wagon. As you saw last time, I had primed the wagon wheels. On the hubs, I used Rust-Oleum Aluminum Primer, which is light grey. It bonds specifically to aluminum, and an aluminum primer was recommended in the instructions for the doctor's buggy.

I then used plain flat grey Rust-Oleum primer. As you can see, the wheels are rather fuzzy.

Sanding after priming a first coat always helps smooth the fibers away. Then a second quick spray of the same grey primer and they are now ready for final color when I get there....

Back to the cabin. I made a drawing for the front based on my built walls, not the previously drawing of the sides. My final measurements for the sides ended up being different from how I had drawn them.

Before continuing, I cut the front and back from cardboard to get a feel for the final size. Easier to adjust here than after I started building the front hinged window.

I checked the width against the rear axle assembly, which can be adjusted to fit, but I think the cabin size is good for proportion.

Horse Harness - part 1

by brae  

Maybe that should read, "Putting Jebediah to work, part 1." As you know, I'm using a Breyer thoroughbred horse for my mail wagon. I found it interesting that at least one pacer (harness racing horse) pulled a mail wagon in real life.

Mail Wagon Horse Mon, Jan 19, 1914 · The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

After finally getting my hands on the marvelous book Making Model Horse Harness by Anne Funnell, I started reading the material and doing more sleuthing online. Anne's business is no more, so I am doing my best to scout Rio Rondo for the things I need. They seem to be well-stocked, so I am making a shopping list while I work on a mockup.

I bought this bridle from Texas Tiny at the local mini shows this past spring.

I fitted it to Jebediah to see. Yeah, it was a pain. I can see there will be more swearing in my future as I make said harness. :D But, it fits perfectly and is very well made. I'm not sure if I will be able to modify this one (the reins are not long enough, there's no simulated bit and there are no blinders), or if I will have to use this as a guide to make my own with the harness.

I had the idea of doing a test run with ribbon before diving into the leather and custom hardware. This would give me a feel for the parts and lengths/widths of the tack. Michaels is always hit or miss in the supplies department, but it was the closest store while out to lunch. I bought 1/8" wide white ribbon - the two colors missing from the stock of plain 1/8" ribbon were brown and black. Sigh. I colored the white ribbon with a permanent marker and let it dry overnight. I'm not worried about color transfer since Jebediah is still in his primed state. I had 1/4" black ribbon at home. These aren't the precise widths I'll need, but they are a good approximation.

I didn't get very far, since one part really depends on another, but it was worth a shot. I need to just get the materials and start to work - trial and error. But, this attempt did help me study the drawings in better detail and estimate the amount of leather I will need. I also kept a tally of the various hardware components since the book doesn't have a detailed listing of items with sizes. The book appears to be a companion to the kits and hardware sold by Anne Funnell, so that is understandable. If you have the kit, you need only the part number - not the size. And, the kit itself would have likely had a parts list with sizes and lengths noted.

I am reconsidering adding flocking to Jebediah in seeing how much handling needs to be done when attaching and, especially, tightening the buckles. I know I can get a good approximation of hair on the body with paint, and the mane and tail will no longer be plastic to help drive the realism.

Mail Wagon - part 9

by brae  

Continuing work on the mail wagon. I'm planning a basic box cabin with trimmed details, a hinged front window, and sliding side doors. I'm using 3/64" thick basswood sheets (3" x 24") for the majority of the parts. It's thinner than 1/16" and therefore lighter in weight but still durable when trimmed.

I started by drawing a quick sketch using the Rondel kit sides as a starting point, then refining from there based on measurements for average seat height, the seated height of my artist model and general proportions from the various mail wagon examples I've reviewed.

The two doors are where I will begin, then I can build the walls to enclose around them. If these don't work, then my basic construction will change since I'll make hinged doors instead. I'm using door frames from Northeastern Scale Lumber, cutting them down width-wise. I am sure there must be a place to get the window channel that Houseworks uses to make their windows, but I have yet to discover it.

The door frame material holds the 3/64" thick basswood perfectly as an insert, and 3/64" thick trim finishes the frame. The top will have acrylic sheet for the window. As I was working, I decided to make my door a little wider than my drawing for practicality. This will add a modest amount to the length of the wagon, but it seemed necessary for better proportion. Here is one door with the original width of door frame material on the side and the other with the width cut down.

I built the side front and side back walls using the door frame material for the lead edge of the door openings as well as the tops and bottoms, cut down to size width-wise. I used 1/4" corner trim for the front and back edges to make it easier to join the front and back of the cabin when I get to that stage.

Most of the examples I saw had no side windows, sometimes small slits to peer through, so I've left the side walls solid to have more room for the lettering. The cross trim on the side front and side back panels isn't glued in place yet, since I want it to line up with the door in the end. Leaving it unattached allows for adjustment later.

Each door will slide to the back just short of its door handle.

I think this will work well, so next I will make the front, back and floor.

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.

Mail Wagon - part 7

by brae  

Continuing work on the Mail Wagon. With the replacement wheel parts received, I was able to assemble all four wheels. I decided to use the "scrap" wheels that were cut between the thin true parts. The scrap wheels are more substantial for a mail wagon versus a doctor's buggy, and I will be handling the wagon and therefore the wheels a lot during the cabin construction. As expected, the replacement scrap wheels are slightly smaller than the original wheels, but this works without issue. I've seen mail wagons with all the same size wheel and those with smaller wheels in the front.

I left the previous large wheel on the jig and fit its corresponding scrap wheel inside since the paper pattern isn't meant as a guide for the scrap wheels. I'm using only the long spokes, measuring and cutting them to fit one at a time. While there are two extras in each set of spokes in case of disaster, I am assembling the larger wheels first. If I get a spoke too short for these, those shortened pieces will likely work for the smaller wheels.

You are to complete the spokes in opposing pairs so the wheel stays uniform and flat. I built in a little tension to help the minimal amount of super glue gel used, but too much tension can make the wheel buckle.

The assembly was actually very sturdy once removed from the jig.

While I did round the edges a touch before assembly, the instructions indicate to fine-tune the small ends into rods. This worked only so well in that each one will always turn out differently. Once painted and with added grime, they should be fine. I filled the nail holes with wood putty.

Three more to go....

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