Could I Build A Horseless Carriage?

By Staff
article image
This motor buggy was built by Vernon Silver.

P.O. Box 65, Mountain Home, North Carolina 28758

I have always been fascinated with wagons, buggies and
carriages. I have built several small wagons for my ‘hit &
miss’ engines and some goat wagons which turned out pretty
nice, but I al ways wondered if I could build a Horse less
Carriage. You never know until you try, do you ?

Not being sure how it would turn out, (and it was a pastime
project so I didn’t want to put much money into it), I decided
to use all the used parts I could muster up. I had a Tecumseh 5 HP
motor that came off a garden tiller and several other parts. I
visited my older brother who runs a small engine repair shop and he
gave me a transmission and differential oft a lawn tractor.

By this time I had some idea how it would look. My wife and I
participate in several engine and tractor shows, so I thought it
would be nice if I calculated the measurements so that two people
could ride in it and it could also be transported in the hack of my
pick-up truck. The truck had a high door cover, so the top would
have to be collapsible or removable, but I would worry about that
later. I was anxious to get the rest of it working.

The chassis would have to be built first, so I bought angle
iron, flat iron, iron rods and one inch square tubing; lots of
bolts, nuts and washers; and some welding rods.

There were no written plans. I was winging it all the way, trial
and error, working each step out as I came to it. No computer
printouts on this project! Old time math, tape rule and yard stick,
a square, pencil and paper were my de sign tools.

I don’t have a power hack saw and my arm wouldn’t hold
out to do ‘all the sawing that was necessary with a hand hack
saw, so the little side grinder along with a metal cutting wheel
mounted on my radial arm saw got a lot of use.

Most early cars did not have a live rear axle, so I decided to
go with a final drive chain to each rear wheel. I went to the
Northern Hydraulics store to pick up some chain, sprockets and
wheels. I didn’t know any place in this area where I could
purchase wagon seat springs, so my wife and I took a trip to an
Amish settlement in Pennsylvania where I knew I would be able to
get a line on where I could find some wagon seat springs. I
reasoned that buggy springs would be too big, so I would try the
wagon seat springs, which turned out just right.

After countless hours of work and several sleepless nights when
I would run into a problem that needed re thinking or re-working,
everything finally clicked into place and worked out beautifully.
The woodwork was no problem and I talked my wife into sewing a top
for me.

As soon as it was finished I took some pictures of it. I showed
them to a member of Hendersonville, North Carolina, Antique Car
Club and he invited me to take it to their next meeting and give a
little speech on it; which I did. It created a lot of interest and
they insisted I give it a name. I couldn’t come up with a name
just then, but in a few days, when I drove it down Main Street in
the Apple Festival Parade in Hendersonville, I had a tag with the
name Silver Ghost (my last name is Silver and the car represented
cars of the past so that is where the Ghost part came in). As I
went down the street I got standing ovations and handclaps.

When I take it to engine shows it creates a lot of attention.
People crawl under it and examine it from one end to another to see
how the parts were put together. This inspired me to work up a set
of plans with addresses where parts can be obtained that aren’t
usually carried by local hardware stores.

If any of you are interested in a fun project or something to
keep you out of your wife’s way this winter, this will do

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines