|Conestoga wagon (1883), painting by Newbold Hough Trotter|
Pennsylvania State Museum (photograph Ad Meskens)
|Historical photo of a Conestoga wagon with team of six horses and the wagoner (1910).|
The traditional colouring was a light but brillant blue verging on peacock blue for the body, vermillion red for the wheels and undercarriage, and white for the top made of canvas, sailcloth, or homespun hemp . All iron work was painted black.
|Historical Conestoga Wagon at a museum display (with brake lever pointing forward).|
The Conestoga Horses were a special breed of originally black draft horses, perhaps the offspring of the black cart horses common in England. They were massively built, weighed about 1800 pounds and stood between sixteen and seventeen hands at the withers (about 170 centimetres). They had no long hair beneath the fetlocks (the roads were often muddy!), and no long tails (to avoid matting).
|Earliest drawing of a Connestoga horse.|
|A historical photo, the wagoner riding the wheel horse, and his assistant sitting on the lazy board.|
One problem seems to be that in some pictures the brake lever points forward, in others backward. But if you have a look at the construction of the brake this is no real problem: The wagoner could fix the lever to the brake rocker bar either way, and operate the brake either from the lazy board or from the rear of the wagon (if he had an assistant).
|Brake mechanism seen from above.|
|Brake lever worked from the rear of the wagon.|
|Brake lever worked from the side of the wagon.|
The wagon carried some equipment: a feed box to feed the horses (fastened to the rear), a bucket to water the animals, an axe to clear the road in case any newly fallen trees blocked it, a grease bucket to grease the wheels, a jack for removing the wheels, and a tool box for small repairs.
|Conestoga wagon in the Smithonian National Museum of American History (with brake lever pointing backward).|
And then I realized that the brake on the right side was broken off, and the part not contained in the parcel. It took me some filing and scratching to produce a new brake from a bit of plastic sprew I had fortunately kept in my material box.
Adding the lazy board cut of balsa wood didn't prove too difficult. The brake lever took some more pains. I constructed it from brass wire by adding some material by welding.
|Wagon model with the added parts.|
|The brake lever under construction.|
The horses of the model are not equipped with bells. Couldn't the producer have added these parts as well? Thast would have saved me some pains. However, being the perfectionist that I am, I made four sets of 3 and 4 bells on arches from grey stuff and thin wire and glued them to the hames. They are a bit out of proportion, but the idea is there.
|Draft-horse with bells added (not yet completely painted).|
The missing buckets I bought from a ship-building model shop. They turned out to be a bit small, at least the water bucket. Perhaps I will change it later for a bigger specimen. The axe will be added later when I have been able to procure one. But that isn't absolutely necessary, as it was fastened to the the hounds and is hardly visible.
"I'll be there with bells on!"