This weekend, while my parents were visiting, we decided to go to the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum.
It is a wonderful museum based in the actual factory buildings which were constructed in 1838. It includes the main factory building as well as a blacksmith shop (not the original, but another one from the same era that was moved to the location) and a storage barn. It was a beautifully sunny day, so the views of the Tantramar Marsh behind the museum were really beautiful.
The main building is divided up into sections that highlight the stages in the construction of carriages. Many steps and stages are involved in the construction of the wheels, which seemed to be the most complicated part of the carriage building process, and also the most subject to failure.
The wheels begin with a hub, which is made from a solid piece of tree trunk. The hub is created on the lathe and needs to be dried for months (up to years for large ones) to ensure that it will not crack. Here are a lot of hubs in different sizes that they have at the museum which have been drying for a very long time!
Holes are drilled in the hub for the spokes to be inserted.
The insertion of the spokes takes place on a device called a wheel cradle.
Then, the rim is fitted to the spokes with the aid of special tools that helped ensure the right amount of spring to the wheel in order to make it stable, round, and even.
Finally, the wheels had a metal "tire" that was added by the blacksmith.
Other parts of the carriage building process included construction of the "box" on which the seats are mounted, the upholstery of the seats, and the assembly of the undercarriage, including springs.
The carriages also had to be painted. The paint area was quite amusing - the door next to the area, and the floor under the paint bench, were thickly crusted with old paint.
It is believed that in order to ensure the right consistency, the paint was splattered onto the door to see if it was sufficiently sticky. What a mess!
One of my favourite areas of the museum was the display of decorative accents one could choose to have on one's carriage, if one so desired.
These 'goose neck' hooks, for example, were designed to hold the reins.
Overall, we had a great time at the museum. In a future blog, I'll share some more pictures and information about this interesting part of local history.