Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wagon box

Lots of vigorous woodwork, or if you're German, lots of wigorous voodvork. Willow is easily sawn and sanded though rather less easily planed and chiselled. Two bulbous planks suggested Oxfordshire Bow Wagon sides, while four others carefully matched to one another for maximum width and draw-knifed to a close fit make the box base. Overall dimensions are set by the available tree and the inexorable fact of 28 inch doorways.

The rave and strouters (beautiful word. No wagon can be made without strouters) give 10 inch high sides and the wooden staves, mortised and glued and pinned with treenails into the shutlocks, obviate the need for horrible corner irons to stop the sides flopping over when subjected to lateral stress such as children are wont to afford. (Shall I tell you what raves and staves and treenails are? Nope; I'm feeling unkind. And you'll have to go and find books on wagons in the Library because Google struggles with strouters and shutlocks.)

Everything bolted together with coach bolts because that's what they were invented for, and glued with this fantastic strong foaming polyurethane waterproof glue which in the southern hemisphere is sold as Selley's Aquadhere but is probably called something quite different in Heaps of Sileby, that is assuming Heaps hasn't been bankrupted by Loughborough B&Q. I liked Heaps of Sileby; it always sounded so apposite. Heaps was the ironmonger and Sileby was the downmarket version of Barrow and Barrow was the downmarket version of Quorn and it always amazed me that the people in Toiletpipe Terrace who lived opposite didn't move there to feel more at home. Toiletpipe Terrace was so called because by every front door ran a large ventilation pipe on which the postlady warmed her hands on frosty mornings. Toiletpipe Terrace was famously inhabited by a pallid fat boy of about twenty with zits, a baseball hat, and a D-reg Ford Escort with a personalised number plate from which we deduced that his name was A2ONY L. On Saturday mornings he used to take the wheels off and play loud thump-thump-thump music and everybody in the street hated it (I asked) and he did Routine Maintenance, though what that maintenance may have been I never knew because our car didn't have its wheels off from one year to the next nor did it ever seem to need to. He had a friend called Master Batey with a florid green Renault 5 and the number plate B19TEY, the 19 being so disposed as to look like an A. He too played loud thump-thump-thump music on a Saturday morning and the pallid fat boy used to take Batey's wheels off to compare them, and sometimes other young men came round too, thump-thump-thump, and everybody pulled wheels off all over the place and it was all agreeably mysterious and puzzling. Once the pallid fat boy left his car propped up on bricks with black plastic bags over the brake drums, but in the event he found the plastic bags weren't nearly as good as wheels and he put them back on. When these young mortals had finished comparing wheels they drove vigorously round the village, thump-thump-thumping coming from the music systems with which each car was fitted, and sometimes they squealed their brakes to a standstill and sometimes they squealed their tyres from a standstill, but as they none of them seemed to work at gainful employment I always wondered that they needed to have a wheel inspection of a Saturday morning when there were so many other mornings open to them. I expect they're all respectable banking executives nowadays.

Heaps of Sileby was unchanged from 1954 where bolts were tumbled into stout brown paper bags and the ironmongers wore brown stable coats and thick pebbled glasses and almost certainly spent the evenings studying LBSC and making Petrolea or Titch. The only good thing about Loughborough B&Q was the bullet drills and the brass tubing for model steam engines, neither of which are readily available or indeed available at all in the heaving retail splendour of Motueka (pop.n 7,485).

Er - where were we? -

The children's wagon sides are only five and a half inches high and it's smaller in proportion, and to reduce navigational damage, narrower. Might as well give dimensions:
(Children's) wagon box base:
Internally 11 and a quarter inches wide, and
Internally 36 and a quarter inches long, and
The top o'the box splays out to 17 and a quarter inches.

This new wagon:
Internally 17 inches wide, and
Internally 48 inches long, and
Width at the top 25 inches.

The sloping headboard on the children's wagon made for some tricky mortising, no surface being at right angles to any other. But beauty requires a sloping headboard, so a strategic strouter, bolted to it and in turn bolted to the side planks and raves, obviates the mortising and just needs a bit of cunningly angled sanding for good gluing joints. All the straggly bits get buzzed off afterwards with an angle grinder to make my woodwork look far better than it is. Nobody is deceived except myself, and if they're quarrelsome I shall tell the critics it's the Vernacular Look and if that doesn't shut them up then I'll take the wheels off and play loud thump-thump-thump music by way of punishment.


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