6613 State Route 158, Millstadt, Illinois 62260-1741
I received, as a Christmas gift in 1927, a Climax toy farm wagon.
The photo shows me holding my youngest brother, while seated on the wagon, while the middle aged brother was at the wagon tongue. Picture was taken in rural Clayton, Missouri, the summer of 1928. This wagon served us well. One of the main functions was to haul empty wooden orange, lettuce crates and apple boxes from an A & P market about three-fourths of a mile from home. I'd stack them on the wagon, tie them down with a rope, at the back of the store, then head home up a long hill. When home they would be dismantled, and the boards were used to make various things. A hand coping saw was used for curved cuts and a small hand saw for straight cuts. An old block plane and a lot of sandpaper was used to smooth the boards and edges. A glue pot like a double boiler, with water in the bottom and heated on the kitchen range, melted the horse-hoof glue that had quite an odor. Nails removed, when disassembling the boxes, were saved to use in assembling the new products. Small cans of paint were purchased that I believe held pint and sold for 25 cents.
As the wagon aged and was used heavily, the box was taken off the running gear. I shortened the running gear, took off the tongue, put ropes on for steering and built a flat bed trailer for the shortened running gear. The trailer part was made of an old coaster wagon. This experience allowed me to learn the art of backing a trailer, which I still do today with ease.
We moved to Illinois in 1932 and, lo and behold, the wagon was not moved! Probably due to it being excess baggage. I never forgot the wagon and often wished I had it. After years went by, I decided I'd like to reproduce one. Then, working as an electrician about 1969, I was able to find a picture of my wagon in a 1922 Montgomery Ward Catalog. The man who had the catalog tore the picture out and gave it to me.
A copy of the catalog picture is shown here. From this I found the size of the front wheels to be 14' with a metal rim ' wide. By calculations and from my memory, I came up with a 20' rear wheel. The bed size was either 18' x 36' or 18' x 40'. My memory told me it had to be the 40' length. The 40 spokes were turned on my 10' South Bend metal lathe, as well as the brass hubs (two to each wheel). I have been taking a sand casting class since I retired in 1981 at age 62, so this worked out well to cast the parts I needed. This class is sponsored by our local area college. The hub end of the spokes were tapered with a jig on my radial arm saw. The fellies were cut with a power sabre saw. See photo at top of spokes and fellies of a rear wheel assembled.
This photo below shows complete front wheel with two piece brass hub, held together with rivets, one through each spoke as well as the steel rim. The rim is countersunk five places for 10-32 flat head machine screws, one at each joint of the fellies, with a nut on the inner side of the wheel.
All wooden parts for the running gear were reproduced by making patterns from my memory. Oak lumber was used for the running gear, while ash was. used for the spokes and fellies.
Stencils were cut out of cardboard for the yellow trim, and penciled to the painted parts, after which trim was painted yellow by hand with a small brush.
The seat is removable, so the wagon can be used for hauling. The box can be taken off for hauling logs or lumber. For this the wheelbase can be extended 8'.
The photo on this page shows the completed wagon, which I have shown in parades and at engine shows, together with my steam engines mounted on a trailer with a boiler, and a whistle. The engines are built from scratch, using old master cylinders, wheel cylinders and, of course, brass castings including flywheels. (See GEM June/July, 1993.)
I enjoy building things, as well as keeping alive the traditions of the past.