Friday, January 18, 2019

Seven Fat Cows 1.8: The buggy

Kelly went over to Zane’s salvage yard to see what was available. He had a half-backed plan to salvage the running gear from an automobile and use it beneath Di’s buggy.

OK, it was more than a half-baked idea but he was still flexible on what vehicle he was going to strip the undercarriage from.

Zane invited Kelly in for coffee. It was a blisteringly cold morning and Kelly was a valued customer.

The neighborhood’s view of Zane was complicated.

One neighbor hated Zane like poison. Zane was dragging a piece of farm equipment to his yard when the neighbor’s dog gave chase. After nipping at Zane’s rear wheel for fifty yards it turned away from the truck right into the spinning disks.

Zane never even slowed down. He was playing his radio loudly and had never even noticed the dog. The neighbor was sure that Zane swerved to hit his dog because what dog would be stupid enough to turn in front of a piece of equipment that sliced it up like balony.

Other neighbors looked down on Zane. They automatically equate “salvage” with garbage. They worried about automotive fluids leaking out and polluting ground water. They worried about resale value. They worried about his yard becoming an eyesore.

They did not realize the effort Zane put into draining the vehicles. Heck, it was to his advantage. He had not purchased gasoline in years and his oil burner loved transmission fluid.

Most of the neighbors who disapproved of Zane had moved into the neighborhood recently. Those neighbors who had been there more than ten years had figured out that Zane was way smarter, both in book learning and human nature, than anybody would have guessed.

Zane was always ready to lend a hand cleaning up a yard or a barn. He had pulled more than one young man out of a ditch. Why not, he had a wrecker.

“Whatchya looking for today?” Zane asked. “It must be a pretty hot project because it is colder than a congressman’s heart out there.”

“Gunna make Di a buggy.” Kelly grunted. “She is gunna get a horse and she wants a buggy.”

“That could be OK.” Zane agreed. “You got a picture in your head?”

“I was thinking of more a wagon than a buggy.” Kelly said. “I see a lot of trailers made from the back end of pickup trucks. I was thinking of keeping the frame and all four wheels. Maybe hook up to the horse with something like a tow-bar.”

Zane nodded his head sagely as the words painted a picture in his head. “What kind of horse is she getting. A big one?”

Kelly shook his head “No. Its gonna be a retired trotter. I don’t know how big they are but I am guessing a thousand pounds.”

Zane offered the opinion “A full sized frame might be more than that size horse could handle.”

“Thats why I was thinking the frame from a small truck.” Kelly said.

“Naw, you want to stick with a full sized truck. The front suspension goes with the frame and you don’t have a bunch of stuff sticking way up. You won’t have to dick around with McPherson struts and figuring out how to get structure up to them.” Zane said.

“But then we are back to the frame being too big.” Kelly said.

“Did you ever think about shortening the wheelbase by cutting two or three feet out of the middle and welding it back together?” Zane asked. “Mr Pepper used to do that to convert mil-surplus trucks to semis ‘back in the day’.”

After finishing the coffee, the men walked out into the salvage yard. Zane started the tractor with the forks mounted on the front and tipped over a few trucks so Kelly could look them over.

“You know,” Zane said “if it were me I would dump the engine, tranny and gas tank, doors and front-end sheet metal. You might as well keep the cab because you can’t beat the hydraulic brakes that are already installed. All you gotta do is figure out how to mount the cab. You are probably gonna have to raise it up to get over the rails.”

Kelly said, “Di will probably like that, having a cab to keep her out of the weather and being up a little higher.”

Kelly and Zane dickered a little while. It was more a matter of form than serious bargaining. After agreeing to a price, Kelly drove his truck over to his new project. He started the generator and then plugged in the air compressor after it had warmed up. Then he got busy with his impact wrench.

He had to stop a few times to warm up but he was able to drag the carcass back to his place later that afternoon.

Next Installment


  1. Even if you shorten the frame, that's gonna be an awfully heavy buggy - there is a reason that the Amish, etc use wood or very light metals; a horse can only pull so much. Of course, it is also the reason that when there is an accident involving a buggy, it gets so bad, so quick.

    1. You hit the nail on the head.

      I spit-ball it at about 600 pounds. If a horse can pull its own weight are relatively level ground than a single trotter can pull about 300 pounds or eight bales of hay of payload after deducting 100 pounds for the driver.

      Two horses can pull 1300 pounds or four times as much. That would be thirty bales of hay or a right smart...but not insane... load of firewood.

  2. Yep, frame is too heavy, even cut down. I'm sure there is 'something' that he has that can work! :-)