A Buckboard Look Alike


Cree Vicar Dave – SASS Life # 49907

A Cowboy Action Shooting™ town just doesn’t seem complete ta me without a buckboard or cart strategically placed. Whether for transportation or only ambience they are easy on the eyes of this ole cowboy. I wrote an article on wood spoke wheels. Well I had to build somethen to put um on.

This buckboard (or town wagon) was made a little under full size. The wood is red oak, my wood of preference. It’s lighter in weight than many hardwoods, and when sanded, stained, and varnished always looks great.

Looking online, I found many pictures of what I wanted to build. The Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary also has pictures of a buckboard and such that help a cowboy out when drawing up a set of plans.

The wood for the main body was air dried (at least 3 years) 1 inch by 10 inch by 8 foot rough sawn red oak. They were planed to a little over three quarter inch. After sizing up the boards they were ripped around 8 inches wide and cut 7 and a half foot long. This made the bed a little over 32 inches wide. Cross cleats were put on the bottom to hold bed together. The front and side boards rise 8 inches above the bed, were glued, and deck screwed in place. A three quarter by 10-inch board was placed on the top of the front cross board on around a 5° angle toward the front of the buckboard. Three angled struts were used to secure it in place.

The axles were made in three layers of three quarter inch boards. The middle board was slotted to accept the threaded rod. Holes were drilled in the threaded rod and wood to hold the axles in place. The rear axle was secured directly to the bottom while the front took a little more head work to design the fifth wheel. This was accomplished by building up the under side of the front to one-half the difference between the larger diameter wheels on the back and the smaller diameter front wheels. This makes all things come out level. Level is good in most circumstances. It says in Proverbs 4:26 "Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm." This is very good advice that can keep one from going amuk. A three quarter inch square nut was embedded securely in the center of the fifth wheel. Then a three quarter inch bolt was used to hold the front axle in place. The bolt must be held in place so as not to be able to unscrew when axle is turned. A thin piece of metal was placed on the fifth wheel and the axle at the pivot point held in place by deck screws. A coat of grease on these metal plates frees up the action. Stain and three coats of varnish finished it off. Like most other aspects of Cowboy Action this buckboard is primarily for looks. But then half the reason I’m in this sport is to reflect nostalgia.

The seat required a little more homework. I made a trip to see a local Amish buggy maker. He sold me a set of buggy seat leaf springs. While there, I gained valuable knowledge that can be used on my next buckboard-building project. Too bad I didn’t pay him a visit sooner. The springs were built up with wood on top and bottom side, and bolted on. The bottom fits just between the sideboards and is secured in place to the bed.

The buckboard looks great and can be used to shoot out of or to just sit there in town. It should be kept under cover when not in use to protect the wood. The wood spoke wheels used on the Amish buggies have one-inch metal axles. The wheels come with around one-inch or one & one half-inch rubber tires fastened to the felly. They use 1" greased bearings with a seal on the inside and a cap on the outside. These would work very well and afford the buckboard good mobility, but there is a cost factor. Each wood spoke wheel costs over $125.00 plus the axles.

Treated lumber could be used to build the buckboard. This would make it a little more outdoor friendly. But this also adds to the expense. If the wheels you use are not sturdy, the buckboard can set on a solid stand.

Check with a buggy maker before starting a project like this. It may save some headaches. And as always, follow all safety and health rules when working on projects and displaying them.




Hope ta see ya on the trail

God bless

Cree Vicar Dave