Casper Troopers, Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

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Casper Troopers, Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

Postby Whiterook » Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:11 pm

My Uncle Phil, whom along with my dad, is the most likely culprit of my zany sense of humor, once displayed this very cool western wagon lamp on his living room floor. As a young kid, I used to marvel at it, being a huge Westerns fan! Near as I can remember, it was bought by my uncle sometime around the 1960's, but no later than the early 70's.

It was a pretty elaborate work of art, with detailed handmade craftsmanship: Real leather tack, with working metal buckles. The horses (two) were very well molded, with veins and muscles well defined. The wagon was more suggestive than accurate in detail, but very well made. I'd be surprised if these were mass-produced, bargain store fare; but rather, I believe were bought in a fine furniture store. I've looked online at these over the weeks and this one is so much more solid in design and concept.

My dad inherited it after his brother passed away; and then many years later, I inherited it after my dad passed away. It was in pretty beat up shape, having moved from the United States to Canada when my uncle went back home. My dad had it displayed in his cottage by the sea for many years. Then it made the fateful journey back home to the United States with me, and it was in rough shape, the leather having cracked and dried, and the cover wagon canopy was bleached by sun, and lightly stained and tattered over the years. Two of the wheels were in rough shape; one having fallen off, and one hanging on for it's life. The canopy was just too far gone so, I threw it away.

So, I had boxed it up and it sat in my backyard shed since 2002...until I pulled it out several weeks ago. By this point, mice had invaded, and it was pretty filthy; the leather in more horrible shape, with pieces actually gone (I can't remember if they were missing when I brought them home, of if they made a tasty snack for some critter).

So...this is the project. I am going to rebuild her as an homage to my uncle, and a tribute to my favorite drum & bugle corps, the Casper Troopers, of Casper, Wyoming....the 11th Ohio was stationed out in the area in the 1800's and are what the corps' uniforms and peerona are bassed on.

This is what I am starting with....

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Project Start
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Re: Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

Postby Whiterook » Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:32 pm

The wagon itself is very well made, with a seat that is missing one cleat (underneath, not seen in the following picture); and the water and supply barrels are molded to the side. The floor of the wagon is stained from water damage somewhere along the way (it was that way when I got it); and the wood is very light in finish. The horse tack and rigging had some previous damage, but someone glued it back together nicely. Some metal fasteners are missing and need to be refabricated. I haven't checked the light fixture yet, but that will come in time. Thank goodness the broken wagon wheels are clean breaks at the spoke-ends.....

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Main components


The horses are filthy, but I knew they'd clean up no problem. The more difficult part will be the leather. It is so brittle, that cleaning them will lake a gentle touch. The metal on the buckles are pretty chewed up (pitted and the chrome finish is pretty well toast), but they'll give nice *age* to the piece. I think it's cool how all the buckles and fastenings were all working and very nicely made....that should be a bonus as I work on the project. The tougher part will be fashioning new hardware...that will be time consuming.

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Horses rode hard and put away wet!


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Re: Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

Postby Whiterook » Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:38 pm

So on I started today! I spent about 2 to 3 hours cleaning everything, step by step. I used a great *green* product called "Nature's Promise" All Purpose Cleaner, which is clear and doesn't smell. It worked great! First up was undoing some of the buckles and removing what tack I could....

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Unbuckling the beast


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close up of a tack buckle


You can see how beat up it is; and how filthy the horses are. The mottled look on the latter is actually rather realistic, but is unfortunately filthy. Has to go!
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Re: Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

Postby Whiterook » Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:42 pm

Before and after of one horses ass (no, not a self portrait!!!)

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Dirty butt


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Clean butt


You can literally tell where the tack sat on the horse! ... and look at the tail....it was so dark before it was cleaned, which was years of dirt from being out in the shed.

That Nature's Promise cleaner is phenomenal! I used shop towels (heavy duty paper). I had placed a kitchen trash bag (unopened) on my workbench, and then a shop towel was placed atop in stages of cleaning of the plastic and disposed of as it gunked up. As I sprayed the horse down, and lightly scrubbed, and patted, and scrubbed some more, the gunk falling onto the shop towel was disgusting!
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Re: Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

Postby Whiterook » Sun Sep 13, 2015 5:01 pm

The bridle is particularly intricate; and the face is so well detailed that it took a lot of cleaning to get in all the nooks and crannies, with a light touch so as not to break the bridle leather. I love the metal conchos!

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Bridle


And the first horse totally cleaned up! ...No, it didn't take a pee! That was a newer sheet of shop towel placed down on the table, after I had been holding the horse with it in one hand with the towel, and cleaning with the other...the color is orange dye from the felt tack *blanket* material.

DSC03976.JPG
Clean horsie!
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Re: Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

Postby Whiterook » Sun Sep 13, 2015 5:04 pm

A comparison between a cleaned horse (foreground) and dirty horse (background)...

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Clean comparison


And both horses completely cleaned....

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Magnificent beasties!
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Re: Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

Postby Whiterook » Sun Sep 13, 2015 5:11 pm

The wagon itself also got a thorough cleaning, and re-cleaning. I took the light off and cleaned it on the side...it will be tested and reattached later. I also bent the front, metal canopy rig back into shape and place.

I took the wheels and axles assemblies off, and started work on thoroughly cleaning them first; and then went to work reattaching the two broken wheels with Elmer's wood glue, some forceful manipulations of the wheels back onto the spokes, and gentle aid of a small ballpean hammer. Those are drying and I'll reattach the axles to the wagon on another session.

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Repaired wagon wheels


This is where the project stands as of today. The fabrication of tack and attaching hardware is going to be a task and a half, but I have confidence I can make a good repair. I have an old wallet for the leather; and I'll pick up some brass wire as soon as I can.
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Re: Casper Troopers, Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

Postby Whiterook » Thu Nov 26, 2015 10:18 pm

The wagon is finished!

image.jpeg
11th Cavalry Wagon


Next up are the rig and tack for the two horses. That'll take awhile! I've started on it, and am using an old wallet for the replacement leather on the missing and rotted pieces.
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Re: Casper Troopers, Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

Postby Whiterook » Sat Nov 28, 2015 8:25 pm

As mentioned, this is a lamp, so this is the bulb unit!

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A couple angle shots on the workbench....

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Re: Casper Troopers, Cavalry Wagon Lamp Project

Postby Frank » Thu Dec 03, 2015 3:34 pm

Looking good so far. For the leather work would it be possible to use some leather thong from a craft store, the type they sell for pendants/necklaces ? It could be a lot simpler than cutting up an old wallet.
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