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18th Century Phaeton
Chandler Coach has undertaken the unique task of creating an 18th Century style phaeton for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. This phaeton is not an attempt to replicate or copy any existing 18th century phaeton, but it will be a combination of features from different 18th Century Phaetons. The new phaeton will incorporate improvements which will make it more efficient for operational use.

This phaeton is not being created as a static display, but as an addition to the vehicles available for daily use at Colonial Williamsburg.

The inspiration for the basic shape of the new carriage is the phaeton previously owned by American Revolutionary War General, Peter Gansevoort. This phaeton is currently in the care of The Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages in Stony Brook, NY.

This picture of the Gansevoort Phaeton was provided by and is being used with the permission of The Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages. Gift of the Johnstown Historical Society, 1955.

Early in November, 2011, representatives from Chandler Coach took a trip to The Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages in Stony Brook, New York.

The purpose of this trip was to gather detailed information including photographs, dimensional data and design details of the Gansevoort Phaeton.

Harley and David Chandler were permitted extraordinary access to document this phaeton during their two day visit. Chandler Coach would like to thank the museum's staff for their patience, cooperation and support during their time at the museum. Without their cooperation this project would be difficult to complete with the high degree of authentic detail required for this task.

When they returned to the shop the process of creating the patterns for the new carriage began.  

A major challenge in creating the patterns was to make sure the modifications requested by the client were incorporated in the design while retaining the character of the original phaeton.

The following pictures show some of the patterns created for the new phaeton.

This picture shows some of the patterns for the running gear.

This picture is the basic pattern for the body.

The process of gathering the wood necessary to construct the phaeton has begun. The primary woods for the carriage will be White Oak and Ash. The thickness of the required has proven to be a challenge. In order to avoid glue-ups, it was necessary to find timbers that are up to three and a half inches thick. Fortunately, the correct materials were located and have been delivered to the shop.

The parts of the basic frame for the running gear are now being dry-fitted. The following pictures show the reach (or perch), head block, front transom, rear hawns, rear axle bed and rear transom. All the parts shown are made of Ash.

NOTE: The open holes in the aft carriage, rear axle bed and rear transom are for the nunters.

Each piece is meticulously shaped and all mating surfaces are worked by hand until the fit is exactly what Harley wants.

The work on the main structure of the running gear is continuing. Currently the job of carving the scrolls and rounding the edges is being done. The majority of this work is done by hand. Once the parts are done to Harley's satisfaction, I will post some of the pictures.

Harley decided it would benefit the project to setup the old hub drilling machine. This machine is designed to make sure the hole in the center of the hub, for the boxing, is centered on both sides of the blank. 

Once the machine was setup, Harley elected to change the belts and balance the shaft. He also modified the blank holder in the center to make it possible to change the angle of the blank.

This adjustment allows him to separately align either of the drill bits to the exact position necessary.

In the mean time, the work on the iron for the running gear is underway. The first step was to create the reach irons. The blacksmith shop created a jig that reflects the curves of the reach on the original phaeton.

In order to make a smooth curve the 2-inch half-oval iron is heated in small segments. Although the metal is 2-inches wide the bend is on the thin side of the iron making it vital that all bends are made gradually rather than heating a large area and making one large bend.

After every bend the metal is placed on a flat surface and adjusted to make sure it is flat before the next heat is done.

The majority of the effort over the past week has been to complete the wheels. The hubs were turned and the bands created. A mandrel was created to shape the nose band.  The new shape allows the nose band to be used as a step.

Once the hub bands were placed around the hub, Harley secured the hub to the wheel table in order to drive the spokes.  It should be noted the hub bands are not permanently attached at this time.

The metal for the rear tire was 17 feet long. Unfortunately, I was not there to capture the image of David standing on a ladder holding the end of the metal as it was fed through the roller.  The rear wheels are 60 inches in diameter.

Due to the size of the rear tyre, the fire had to be built outside.

Once the tyre was heated to the proper temperature it was removed from the fire and positioned around the wheel.

The tyre was held in the correct location and then driven into position.

When the tyre was in position the wheel was quenched to prevent unnecessary burning and to cool the tyre to tighten it around the wheel.

When the wheel had cooled it was taken into the blacksmith shop and examined. Any area where the tyre and wheel did not line-up the way Harley wanted, a flatter was used to bring the two into proper alignment.

Harley decided to use the Number 3 Silver Hub Boring Machine to bore the hubs for the boxings. The size of the rear wheel again presented a challenge. The Silver Machine had to be elevated an inch and a quarter in order for the wheel to be properly attached to the ring. This was accomplished by using two sheets of plywood under the machine. Once the Silver was at the proper height the wheel was secured to the Silver using the three clamps provided with the machine as shown above.

Once the wheel was on the Silver Harley adjusted the cutter so it would remove the proper amount of material. The adjustment is accomplished by loosening the screw in the end of the threaded shaft (mandrel)  and sliding it to the desired cutting position. The handle on the silver is turned causing the wheel to spin and the cutter remains in the same location other than the mandrel moving toward the rear of the machine.

Harley monitors the mandrel at the rear of the machine to determine the depth of the cut. There are multiple passes required to complete the boring process. It is necessary to monitor the depth of cut closely because some of the cuts do not go completely through the hub.

Once the bore for the boxing was complete, a G.V. Brecht Hub Boring Machine was used to create the counter-bore.

When the hub was finished it was time to press in the boxing. Unfortunately, the wheel press normally used to press the boxing in the hub was too small for the rear wheels so it was necessary to revert to the old way of driving the boxing into the hub.

The rear wheels where then trial fit on the metal portion of the rear axle.

Once the majority of the wheel work was completed, Harley instructed the blacksmith shop to begin work on the springs.

First, David built a jig to resemble the pattern taken from the original phaeton. The picture shown below is of the rear spring. 

Early in Harley's career, he designed a spring table that he continues to use. Once the base spring was properly shaped the spring plate was moved to the spring table.

When the base spring plate was properly attached to the spring table, the next plate was heated and placed on top of the base plate. Tongs were used to pinch the two plates together to shape the second plate. With each new plate the screw pressing against the curve of the spring was increased about a quarter of an inch.

When all the plates for the spring are heated and the basic form of the spring plate created, the spring is removed from the spring table and returned to the blacksmith shop. The blacksmith shop will adjust the spring plates as necessary to make sure they fit properly against each other. Once the fit is correct, the ends of each plate will be worked to the final shape.

The work continues on the phaeton. Unfortunately, the hand work necessary to carve the pieces of the running gear is very time consuming and progress seems very slow. The excitement of seeing the wheels come together or the springs being assembled has been replaced by chisels carving intricate curves on the ends of the head-block.

The blacksmith shop has been busy replicating the the attaching hardware including such items as the over size nuts and bolts. The iron for the sides of the reach are well underway and almost completed.

It has been considerable time since I last posted pictures of the progress made on the phaeton.  I thought people might enjoy seeing some pictures of how it looks now.

I will try to post the changes soon after they happen.