WS StagecoachRoy Rogers was my childhood hero and Eddy Arnold’s “Cattle Call” was my favorite song but nothing spurred my imagination like stagecoaches.  When I was a teen I got to spend some time at a dude ranch that had a bunch of horse drawn vehicles.  I used to climb up into the seat of the stagecoach and imagine driving those dusty roads.  I ran from Indians and everything.

When I first bought anvils tongs and hammers, range hoods and railings were the last thing on my mind.  It was all about stagecoaches. Every heat was about learning coach-making processes. I was well aware of the low demand these days for stagecoaches but that didn’t matter. This was my hobby so rules are for other people.  I’ve been blacksmithing for over ten years and I still have not built the coach of my dreams. (The story of acquiring the tools is well…a long story and worth telling at some point when we have more time.)
When this project came along I jumped at the chance.  This coach was started by someone in 1941 and never finished.  Over a cup of coffee a guy mentioned it and gave me a name and a phone number.  I found the owner and several years of phone calls and emails commenced.  The most important question I asked of the seller was, is the work done so far the work of a skilled craftsman, or of a Bozo?  I remember a rather vague answer but to condense the story my customer bought it.
We met the seller in Ohio to pick it up. The coach was packed into an old four-horse trailer that was part of the deal.  My uncle who lived nearby gave me a bunch of hardwood “rounds ‘ for me to cure and then turn on lathe into wagon wheel hubs.  We loaded them in and hitched up the trailer to my truck but none of the lights would work.  I ripped all the old wiring out and proceeded to rewire it right there in the auto parts store’s parking lot. The bad luck over we started west.
After dark on a cold windy night in Iowa a shower of sparks stopped us along the roadside.  The nuts on the U-bolts of the trailer were so rusty that some just pulled off from the strain.  I had to use a flat screwdriver to chisel a hole through the floor and chain the axle back up into place.  Another chain was used to pull the axle forward to a more or less aligned position.  We crippled back to the nearest town and spent the night.  After finding the right parts, a tire shop put it back together and with the bad luck behind us we headed west again.
Stopping at a remote gas station and gasping at the price at the pump we decided to go on to the next town only 22 miles away and buy fuel there.  We had over a quarter tank showing and we had cans of fuel with us too.  Pulling a hill at about 65 mph the engine “went up in smoke”.   “It turns out the gauge was faulty and we simply ran it out of fuel.  When I said “simply” that’s disregarding the towing bill and how cold it was.  With the bad luck behind us we headed west again and made it home that time.
Someday I’ll tell you the story of actually building the coach.  But… If I had it all to do over I would start from scratch