Rural Heritage Sale Barn

Buying a Used Horse-Drawn Vehicle
by Herb Andler

When buying a used horse-drawn vehicle, take an especially hard look at these 12 things:

  1. Wood—Does the wood have cracks or dry rot? Be especially wary of heavy paint, which can cover a lot of rot.

  2. Springs—Are they broken or sagging?

  3. Spring end bolts—Are they worn?

  4. Seat—Does the seat need reupholstering? If the seat is wood, be sure to check underneath for dry rot.

  5. Iron—Are moving parts rusty, pitted, or overworn?

  6. Hubs—Pull off the wheels and check the bearings and spindles for excessive wear.

  7. Fifth wheel—Does it have cracks or show excessive wear?

  8. Axles—Are they bent, causing the wheels to be out of alignment?

  9. Top bows and sockets—Rusted sockets above the hinge may be weak.

  10. Shafts/tongue—Old wood may appear sound, but if it has no life it can easily break.

  11. Tires—Does the iron show a lot of wear? A tire with cupping (worn down at both sides) has no value.

  12. Wheels—Rap the tire with a hammer and listen to how solid it sounds. If it makes a "chuck" sound instead of ringing, the wheel has shrunk and the tire needs resetting.


Herb Andler owns and operates Justin Carriage Works. This article appeared in the Holiday 1997 issue of Rural Heritage.

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29 April 2012 last revision