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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wagon Shafts

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.

*Note:  What follows are not instructions:  this is simply a  description  of what I did to build something my dog could pull with me walking beside.   It is not something a person or child could ride in. I do use a line on the wagon, so I can hold it back in case something lets loose, and I do keep the dog on a leash.  This is not an instruction package. I make absolutely no claims for the safety of this design and cannot be held responsible for any outcome should anyone choose to imitate it with or without modifications.

Wagon Shafts

I have been asked to show how I made the shafts for the wagon.  The shafts are made out of rigid PVC conduit pipe, half inch.  I bought one 10 foot length  of pipe, a "T" junction, and two "sweeps" to make the corners.

I bought the wagon a number of years ago at Canadian Tire.  The handle that came with the wagon fits on a piece that connects to the front turning axle by way of an upside down u structure.   

Then I called  my dad, Bill Sallans.  What came next is largely his work!

If difficult to see, pass your cursor over the image and it will go full screen.
Click back again, off the pic and you will be back in the post.

 Initially my dad and I just talked on the phone. We got into some confusion because he has the same wagon as me, but bought it a year or so earlier. The handle hook-up is different from mine.  Mine is shown in the picture on the left.  The picture on the right, with the blue writing is the way his handle worked. If mine were like his, it would have been easy to simply cut the handle off near the end, insert a stub in bit that was left, and then insert this stub into the box that makes the T for the PVC pipe.  If I'd had  that kind of handle then  what follows would have been a little different. 

The "u" that connects the wagon handle 
to the piece that goes to the turning axle.

My handle worked with an upside down u that had been welded to the shaft of the wagon handle, and a bolt  to fix it in the piece that goes to the axle. So we had to do it differently. We cut the handle off pretty short, and then stuck this piece itself into the PVC "T". In the end it was a good fix because that the handle pivots on a bolt means that the shafts can also pivot. So when not in use I can stand the shafts straight up against the wagon.

The "T" junction available for PVC rigid pipe.
You can also see one of the "sweeps" here.
The opening on the T is where we put the wagon handle end .

I am pointing to the "u" from the handle.
You can't see the handle stub itself because
it has been inserted into the PVC "T"

The handle stub  comes right out the other side of the "T". You can see the top of the eye bolt that we put there: that is where I hook up the "tug line" that goes to the back of the dog's harness.  You can also see that  there is a D-ring on the piece that goes to the axle with an old leash attached to it. I use this as a brake when necessary and also to pull the wagon myself rather than pulling on the shafts when moving it around.

Here you see the hook up on the piece that goes to the axle.
The shafts are now in a vertical position, so you are looking at
the bottom of the PVC "T" .
The "u" part that was part of the wagon handle is actually
now in the position it would be if the handle were still on it.
 This is how it looks with the shafts in pulling position.
You can also see the eye bolt that is pushed through a hole
we drilled in the stub of the wagon handle. 

Here you see the shafts all hooked up to the dog.
I put loops on the side of his pulling harness to hold the shafts.
You can also see the  clips I put  there too to make the "hold back".
The "hold back" is necessary to keep the cart from riding up on the dog.  The clips are just swivel tugs. They are fixed to the shaft with hose clamps.  The loops for the shafts are sewn into the harness, and then a second loop is provided for the clamps for the hold-back.

I finished off the ends of the PVC pipe just by sticking an adapter that you use to join two pieces together on the end with a nickel inside to close the pipe.  

The harness I use is our wintertime sledding harness.  It is  called a toboggan harness. It comes down the sides of the dog's back legs and has a spreader bar to keep his legs from being squeezed when he pulls.  I modified it by putting a piece of elastic at the back so that when it is slack, the spreader bar does not drop down and catch his leg.

This harness can be seen at this web site:  (scroll down to toboggan harness).

If I were buying a harness specifically for this purpose I think would go to Black Ice and get their Sierra Drafting and Pulk Harness  because it already has the shaft hook up on the harness itself. It also advertises that it can be used for weight pulling which suggests it may have wider webbing making heavier loads more comfortable for the dog. We are very happy however with the toboggan harness and it is very versatile, especially since I modified it to keep it up off the dogs legs when the line is slack.

I prefer these options to the commonly seen cart pulling harness that goes straight across the dog's chest because I think the x crossing on the chest is more comfortable for the dog. I also prefer the way the spreader bar allows for a single tug hook up, rather than hooking up two lines coming from the dog.  Also the spreader bar acts as  "breeching" -- Papa says "britching" -- helping to keep the harness and therefore the cart from riding up on the dog when going down hill, or stopping on the flat. 

A note on the choice of PVC pipe: It may not be elegant, but it is cheap (less than $20 for all the materials in the shafts) and when you put it all together, it remains quite flexible.  I am teaching Benny to make sure he lies down like a sphinx between the shafts, but once in a while he rolls. The shafts just give way and nobody gets hurt, nothing is broken. It is also quite light weight, yet sturdy.

When we got the whole thing assembled and were sure all the parts fit, we used PVC black glue, the kind designed for the pipe, to put the pieces together.

And that's it!  Thanks Papa! (that's my dad.  He builds cool stuff.)

"Papa"  (Bill Sallans)

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