Second Week of Wagon Building

Big progress on the wagon front these past days. As I’ve mentioning in recent weeks, there’s another mule wagon trip on mule Polly and my horizon. It cheers me to announce that I’m a cotton blanket and tarp away from a roof that’ll keep the whole thing dry.

Where it’s all taking place. Here’s the barn where I’m building my wagon. A chestnut tree throws a wintery shadow over the scrap heap where I’ve gotten quite a bit of building material.

The inside scene. A look inside the barn where I’m building the wagon. In the foreground is the jointer I use to clean up salvage lumber. The outfeed table is visible at the bottom of the picture. In the background is Art, my dad and sailing partner. We’ve spent so much time together on the water he wonders how this thing is going to float….

First, a little voyaging philosophy. Calm down, we’ll get to the photos in a second.

One of the reasons I’ve gotten so much done on my wagon in the past two weeks (my last one took 6 months to build) is that I’ve slashed my online time. While most evenings, yes, I’m often sorely tempted to curl up on the couch and browse “Canadian mule wagon voyage”, I don’t. Rather, I put on my coveralls, stroll out to the barn, and do a few hours of wagon construction.

It’s working. In scant days, I turned a pile of lumber, much of it salvaged, into a hearty expedition machine. As to the time off-line, it’s done my brain wonders. Nothing like peace and quiet in an old oak barn to get the long brain wave functions flowing. Besides, there aren’t any plans online for a tiny wagon stove. Better to step into a barn, spark up the welder and build your own. Yep, photos of that creation are coming.

As to finding out more about my final Canadian destination, that, too, is on hold. You see nothing kills the spirit of a trip like saying, “I’m going to sail around the world”, or “I’m going to ride my bike to Cape Horn.” After the rush of the grand announcement wears off, doing what you bragged you’d do quickly turns into a drudge. Adventuring, by its very nature, means generally aiming the gun and pulling the trigger – more a shotgun than rifle proposition.

Suffice to say I want to visit the north-east with my wagon.

Okay, okay, now some photos.

Last time we spoke, all I had to show was this wall. This is the front wall to the wagon. Here, it’s perched on the porch overlooking the hayfield. It was so foggy this morning, I decided….

….that actually the damn thing was part of a boat I didn’t know I was building. See, upside down, you see where the keel goes (at the bottom). You don’t have to be a naval architect to see that’s a watertight door on the starboard side. Just kidding, this really is going to be a wagon.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Here, the front and back walls are installed. The floor (western cedar for lightweight construction) has also been install as has the low side walls that will serve as storage.

Man, this thing is looking more ship-like than ever. Here, the roof beams have been installed. They’re salvaged oak siding. My dad sawed it over a decade ago. I ripped the wide boards into strips then hit-and-miss dressed them on my jointer. This allows saw marks and weather stains show through the grain. Don’t want to clean up the lumber too much or folks will think I bought it at the big box home improvement store.

Wagon side detail. The shiny stuff visible at bottom is copper sheathing. The triangular pieces of wood are black locust salvaged from a porch. This part of the shelf, once covered with canvas, will make for some fine storage.

And check it out! Two weeks offline is powerful stuff. Here, a blanket’s been thrown over the wagon to show what it’ll look like when its done. Covered with a tarp and canvas cover, this sucker will be cozy and dry. Plus, when I get home, I can rip off the roof and have a blanket with a hell of story to throw on my bed.

Cheers! Now it’s time to get back to the barn. Gotta build my berth. Spring’s coming.

Bob Skelding
2012-02-28 15:09:03

Bernie, I got to tell you, the Biscuit-Bit wagon is looking great. You’re a heck of a craftsman. Polly should be able took take most hills at a trot with that thing!

The Canadian Adventure sounds like a good one. Our friends to the north get far to few adventurers traveling the backwoods.

Take care, Bob

2012-03-06 14:57:09

You two just help a girl dream. Thanks to you, Bernie, and Bob for helping me enjoy your funny comments and traveling photos. Bernie I bought your book of travels, and Bob’s too (but I had read all of Bob’s blogging every day)
so when I want to take a break from the grind of the office, I just click on your website and enjoy!

Thank you!


2012-03-08 10:13:59

Dear Bob and Sherry,

Howdy from the wagon and the great piney woods of Eastern North Carolina. Great hearing from you. Wish you could join me in the new wagon for a cup of tea brewed on the new wood stove. Tastes mildly of pine pitch and pipe smoke. Guess I better start storing my cook gear separate from my vices. This week Polly and I are shaking down the new wagon. Photos to follow. Now it’s time to harness up and go search the forest deep for fat wood. Nothing for picking teeth and setting fires like a splinter from an ancient tree. Sherry, was this part of your dream? Cheers! Bernie

Tina Harris
2012-03-10 01:30:53

Hello from South Dakota,

I have really enjoyed reading about your travel and interest in the badlands.

Thanks for your awesome photographs and
knowledge on many things.

You sound like such a fun and inspiring person.

Take care and I wish you well,


2012-03-11 17:53:33

Hello out there in South Dakota. Brings back fond memories of Bad Land mustard (the color, not the greens),prairie dog towns and mule Polly running away just outside Interior. Dang I should have bought that town when it came up for sale… Stay tuned for a twist toward the maritime. Cheers. Bernie

Fay Cotton
2012-03-17 16:56:21

Canada needs adventurers like you and Bob. Come on up and practice your French and give me a few tips on my wagon-building. Do you think a roof on a larger wagon could be pulled off and used as a rowboat for me and the dogs? Thought you were the right person to ask!!! Keep cracking me up with your inspiring ingenuity and great blogs! Thanks, Fay

2012-03-25 09:26:42


I love you already and we haven’t even met. For years, I’ve thought a row boat would make a dandy wagon roof. Just too crazy, you know…

But yes, seriously, I think it could be done. Depends on the size of the dogs we’re talking. If it’s a husky, I’d go with a Bolger “Brick”. A Labrador retriever would look good housed under a duck boat. Complete with bolted on reeds of course. You know, launch, blind and home all wrapped in one.

Hell, with a chihuahua, a blow up “Seveyor” would serve. Just mind the claws…

I’ll be working on my French…. Just saw a great band from Quebec – Sagapool – last night so now I’m ready to try.

Just gotta get that row boat bolted on the wagon now….

Hope this helps.


2012-06-04 19:58:07

Bernie, I was trying to read WAGONTEAMSTER’S blog when i saw your addy there, so decided to say hello and wish you and Polly well on your journey…..Your wagon looks pretty neat,I sure do hope you and Polly enjoy each day as you meet new faces and see new places on your way. God bless and be safe…Buffy


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