Horse-Drawn Vehicle care and Maintenance
Vehicle care and maintenance of the horse carriage or cart are time consuming, but necessary.
Not only that the well cared and maintained vehicle makes a much nicer impression if it's clean and polished, you may also detect in time parts and places, where a repair is really needed.
So don't underestimate regular care of your vehicle.
It makes the vehicle safer for you and your horse(s).
Vehicle care is a science on its own.
Every driver has got his own tips and recipies and below are a few brought together:
Best is plenty of water to remove all the mud, dirt, grit and sand.
This prevents scratches on painted surfaces and parts.
With a cloth you can get rid of oiltraces.
You might find some at the end of the springs or on the hubs.
A leather is used for drying all surfaces.
Use for this a soft cloth, which does not leave lints on surfaces.
Patent leather parts, such as the dashboard and splashboards, can be polished with shoe cleaner.
Metal parts, like e.g. shaft fittings or rails, need a special metal ploish.
Use it only in thin layers, because otherwise stains appear on parts out of leather and wood and painted surfaces.
Parts made of leather (not patent leather), e.g. cee-springs, straps, hoods,..., should be cleansed with saddle soap.
This will keep the leather well nourished.
Upholstery should be brushed thoroughly.
What would vehicle care and maintenance be without oil?!
Oil regularly the end of the springs around the shackles.
In traditional vehicles you find hub caps on the outer end of an axle where the wheel is fitted.
Remove those caps and put oil into the recess of that cap and put the cap back onto the hub.
These caps hold the oil and the oil lubricates the parts inside when the wheel moves round.
In four-wheeled carriages check regularly if the turntable or fifth wheel is still enough lubricated and put oil on, if not.
This avoids problems with the steering.
They need to be checked if they are running freely.
For that, the shaft should be put onto a shaft rest and the other wheel(s) needs to be blocked.
With a wheeljack placed under the axle it is easy to raise the vehicle up and the wheel off the ground.
Now spin the wheel and see.
In case of a problem you can do the following:
A traditional vehicle's wheels are fixed with a hub onto the axles.
You can take this hub apart and clean and oil it.
Modern carriages often have "fake-" hubs, which are actually roller bearings.
Others have got sealed roller bearings.
Unless you are an expert in taking these things apart, you are better off to take them to the manufacturer or specialist and let them sort the problem out.
Check if you see any signs of material weakness on them.
Wooden shafts can show visible cracks on the wood or the paint.
Take them for serious and sort the problem straight away.
Metal shafts are different: weaknesses are invisible in most cases, they break suddenly and unexpectedly.
The most sensible part of vehicle care:
Storing the precious and often expensive vehicle to maintain a functional state is a bit like storing good clothes.
A vehicle needs to be stored in an ideal climate.
Avoid heat, because wooden parts may shrink.
Try to put it into a dry place and avoid dampness, otherwise metal parts begin to rust.
Ammonia fumes damage leather with time.
Have an eye on woodworm and vermin and store all upholstered parts in a dry wardrobe. Prevent moth infestation.
The shafts of two-wheeled carts should not be placed on the ground.
They could break by being tramped on.
Put theminstead on a shaft rest or tip the cart backwards that the shafts are off ground.
Cover them with dry, light clothes.
Vehicles stored and cared for in such a manner should last a very long time.