As often happens, life gets in the way of one’s agenda and, as a result, work on the vardo hit a hiatus late last December. Then just when I was about to commence the vardo’s interior, the Old Green Jinker (my 1890s two-wheeled horse-drawn daily runabout) decided to self-destruct. It served me well over the years but had reached a point where restoration was no longer practical (figure 1).
Fig. 1. Replaced shafts, missing mudguard, shot tyres and wobbly wheels.
It had long been my intention to build a new brake (a two-wheeler with very long shafts, for breaking horses to harness), but I more urgently required a new jinker – and just like that, the afflatus hit me! “I shall build a dual-purpose jinker-cum-brake!”
There was little worth salvaging from the OGJ other than the spring hangers and three-spring platform which I removed. Then I began exploring materials and tinkering with dimensions. Jinkers are light and manoeuvrable, whilst brakes are necessarily large, strong vehicles capable of withstanding the shenanigans of boisterous young horses learning the ropes. The new cart had to be fairly light, flexible, immensely strong, and with interchangeable short and long shafts. That’s a big ask of any timber. Too big, I felt.
I broke out my trusty abacus and after nutting out a few quick sums, I decided on building the new cart predominantly out of steel. Making the shafts interchangeable would be easier with steel tube than with wood. Therefore, it followed the remainder of the frame should also be of hollow steel sections. The floor, I determined, should be of some hardwood or other to better resist foot wear, and the body should be constructed out of pine for lightness.
I settled on a modern approach to the construction – welding the steel and eschewing traditional coach bolts (where feasible) and square nuts in favour of stainless steel in-hex fasteners and self-locking hex nuts.
My horses range in size from 15.3hh to 17.2hh, so I require a fairly large vehicle. With a new brake in mind, I bought a pair of new 52” wheels at an auction about a year or so ago. Armed with a stick of chalk, I sketched out a brief design on the floor of the ‘shop and began cutting and bending lengths of steel.
The new axle came directly from a trailer parts manufacturer, complete with cable-operated mechanical brakes (I didn’t want to incorporate hydraulics on this build), though the beam is a somewhat hefty 40mm (1-9/16”) solid square bar. I also removed the axle saddles and spring plates from the OGJ’s 1-1/8” (28.6mm) square axle, both of which required modifying to fit the new, thicker axle. The saddles were simply filed until they fitted, but the axle plates necessitated cutting and widening (figures 2 & 3).
Fig. 2. Widened spring plate (reverse).
Fig. 3. Widened spring plate with bolt hole drilled (obverse).
Whilst stripping layers of paint off the old springs, I uncovered the name of their manufacturer (figure 4).
Fig. 4. ‘Goodwin & Co. Birmingham’.
I rummaged around in one of the stables and came across a pair of steps from an old farm cart which I modified to suit this application.
After that it was a simple case of bolting it all together and offering it up to Archie who was utterly nonplussed about the whole thing (figure 5).
Fig. 5. “It fits! I’ll take it.”.
This is a contemporary jinker, so why not adopt a fresh colour scheme (figure 6)?
Fig. 6. Perhaps now, motorists will give me a wide berth! (Photo: Able Assistant)
I also made a pair of clip bars and 270mm (10-5/8”) long clips with which to attach the rear spring pack to the rear crossmember (figure 7).
Fig. 7. Three-spring platform bolted up. (Photo: Able Assistant)
Due to the thicker axle, I also had to make new clip bars and pigtails (figure 8).
Fig.8. New pigtail.
The interchangeable shafts are attached by welded joints secured by pairs of socket screws (figure 9).
Fig. 9. Shaft joiner.