1886 Democrat Horse Carriage Restoration

We have just taken delivery of an 1886 horse carriage, to be restored to its former glory!

Carriage arrival

February 7, 2016: The carriage was delivered.

This horse – drawn passenger vehicle was owned by the Green Family
from 1887 until Frank Green’s death in 1946. From 1946 until 1955 it
remained in the old barn, when it was given to Gerry Wellburn, whose
collection of artifacts eventually became the Forest Museum in Duncan.

The Democrat was used for many years as the main source of transportation
from Duncan to Lake Cowichan, bringing guests to the Riverside Hotel and
Greendale. A one way trip took 4 hours necessitating an overnight stay in
Duncan so Frank Green could meet the morning train from Victoria.

Latterly it was used by the Green Family for family outings to visit friends
and family around the lake and also for the transportation of hay and
firewood. It remained at the Forest Museum until the 1990’s when it was
given to the Kaatza Historical Society.

In June, 2002 it was returned to Greendale, a century after it arrived.

February 07 it was delivered to One Of A Kind Creative WoodCrafting
where Vincent DeDame (a craftsman from France) and David Byers
(a craftsman from New Brunswick) began a complete restoration
of the carriage.

If you would like to follow along on this journey please keep coming
back and click the “MORE” button below.


The front of the carriage – called the “5th wheel”
These are the original images of the carriage we took Feb 07, 2016
prior to any work being completed on the carriage.


Back seat


Mid seat


Front seat


Tailgate closed


Tailgate open


Carriage with all the seats removed



We repaired, stripped and primed all the metal parts
The brake arm was bent and the metal ready to crack
brake-arm  cut-back

Metal was ground down and ground out for the welding
then straightened

BRAKE SHOES – what came off      new metal bent and bored
brake-shoes    brake-shoes-2

new shoes


This is most of the pile of metal parts that came off the carriage seats, side boards etc

pile   pile2

When they came off the carriage they were very badly rusted. LAJ went
the extra mile and replaced anything that might have broken later.

parts   new

These supports were badly rusted and the threaded section actually split
right through the threads and was ready to twist off. New threaded rod
was welded onto the support.

bracket   new-threads   new-threads2

All the metal was scraped, sanded and primed after many pieces were
repaired. There are 56 pieces of metal that support the various
pieces of the carriage (not counting the undercarriage and axles)


The tailgate hardware had to be cut out for the hardwood


New threads were welded onto the eyes that bolt the hardware to the tailgate
added-to   tailgate

The woodworking on the carriage was all stripped. The front seat
was so bad it came apart when we removed the metal supports
and bracing. Vincent Dedame made the new parts and glued
the new seat together. Seen here being clamped so the glue
will set.

seat    clamped

The new seat taking shape – great job Vincent


Brand new support section for the front seat was made using solid wood


next we sanded the springs back to bare metal – the before picture


springs sanded ready for primer


next we take on the rotten support pieces under the carriage
What it looked like before turning it upside down


Upside down. Front and back cross pieces rotten as well as one full runner
Replaced with solid oak. Back piece shown (at the top of the picture) is
replaced with solid 3″ maple.


Sean is installing the new solid maple piece he made


The entire undercarriage was removed to replace the rotten pieces


Work is on going on other parts and pieces. Seats are being sanded and
primed after minor repairs completed on each one.
The supports for the back rests had to be installed before the leather
upholstery is installed. Screws and carriage bolts are installed

back-rest         back-rest2


Just a pause in the restoration to remember Vincent DeDame
I was just informed that Vincent passed away last night March 24, 2016
Rest in Peace my friend



Upholstery is being completed by UPTOWN CUSTOM AUTO UPHOLSTERY
Mr. Ken Reid will do a great job with the back rests. There will be additional images

The dog hair is being supplied from clean dry clippings by a local dog groomer
as it would have been terrible to use high density foam  🙂

The spokes of the wheels are now installed
new wheels

Pressing the boxing into the new hubs

The spokes have been shaved and doweled and the fellows are being installed
1 (2)




The wheels are now completed and in our possession. Almost lost them in the fires of Northern Alberta
Randy at Rafter K completed the wheel restoration for this project and was told to evacuate his house and
shop in Fort Saint John. He took some tools and our wheels and left town. Fortunately Randy’s place was
spared but what a nice gesture facing your place going up in smoke to take a customers wheels instead
of your own items.


Meanwhile the metal / wood undercarriage is being stripped to bare wood and bare metal for primer and top coats
strip2   strip

After what seems like a year we finally have a new location. The equipment is out of the storage van
and the carriage is out of the garage.

It is all hands on the carriage this week to get it done

All the bare wood has been primed and 2 coats of green is being applied to the wood parts


Black has been painted 4 coats
Now Sean is now hand painting the green around all the black metal


Carriage is now completely re painted (except the wheels)


I remember what the 5th wheel looked like back in Feb and what it looks like now

1886 carriage   5th-wheel

Sean cut new side boards as the old ones had rotted out


2 back seats are now finished. Hand brake is installed, foot rest has been installed
Wheel spokes are receiving white primer, then 3 coats of YELLOW final paint.
All exposed wood (except the wheels) will be painted green.

Next the drivers seat, tailgate and more hardware


The new drivers seat with all hardware installed is ready to install.
Some final touch up on the green and black touch up on the metal.


Primer and 2 coats of yellow were applied to each wheel
Then 3 coats of red to each hub
then all the nuts, bolts and rivets were hand painted black


Sean is sitting in the carriage hand painting the backs of the back rests


Tailgate re installed

Carriage 99% finished


The owner of the carriage (Tony Green on the right) speaking with
Abbie Aspin of Aspin Graphics (on the left) about what Tony would
like to see painted on the carriage.

If I did not see this myself, I would find it hard to believe that Abbie
did all the pinstriping and lettering by hand. Starting the first wheel


10 minutes later he says, I am ready for the next wheel now – WHAT??



Pinstriping and lettering by Aspin Graphics
Abbie Aspin 1-250-246-7217 aaspin@shaw.ca
Custom Hand Painted Lettering and Graphics
Flames – Tribal, Classic or “Real Fire”

You can learn the art of custom painting in our Pinstriping, Graphics and
Airbrushing Courses offered each spring and fall.
Call Abbie for details

Wheels completed – now on to the pinstriping of the body



Pinstriping done – now on to the lettering – free hand


adding in the black shadow






On her way home


Thank you to all who assisted me on this unique project