Blossom's Covered Wagon

Last Update: 16 June 1998

The Ancaster Heritage Day Parade celebrates the beginnings of the small Ontario town. It gets a good turnout, both in participants and watchers. Since it celebrates the "olden days", many of the people dress in costumes similar to those of the early settlers.

We wanted to make our entry seem more rustic, so we devised the covered wagon shown below. The neat part is that the whole thing comes apart, and the wooden frame sits on top of our wagon. We made no modifications to the wagon at all.

Rear view of Blossom pulling the wagon.  With her are Colette and Danica (6). The wagon is a standard kids wagon with pneumatic tires and "rack and pinion" steering — reduces chance of tipping. The shafts are EMT conduit that was bent to make a wider part at the back and then a narrower front section that runs beside the dog. Blossom didn't like the shafts that were more U-shaped, but is quite happy to pull with this setup.
The sides of the covered wagon are leftover fence boards. There is an internal framework of layered 2x4s that fit within the width of the wagon, with a second piece that extends past the sides to allow the fence boards to be nailed on. The front and back boards were nailed to the sides. Our design principle was that we would not modify the wagon itself in any way. This base simply lifts out and stored easily. A more ambitious approach would have hinged the sides to allow the unit to fold flatter. It turned out not to be a problem, however. Danica carting with Blossom in the Heritage Day Parade.
Warrick and Blossom. The cover is held up by three pieces of flexible 3/4 inch PVC pipe. The pipe is inserted into some straps that are intended for holding EMT conduit. There is one strap for each side of the pipe. The front and back pairs were tipped to cause the pipe to extend over the ends of the base. Each pipe is 5 feet long in our setup. That was determined by a bit of trial and error, where we tried to get a decent ratio of base size to cover size. We did find that the ends of the pipe can deform while cutting, and this deformation can make it tough to fit the pipe into the straps that hold it. The upside is the deformation also helps keep the pipe in place once inserted. We've had no trouble with the pipes coming out. I'm a little concerned that the pressure from the bend can push the side out, but having the front and back boards helps keep the base together.
The cover has three sleeves on the inside to hold the pipe. The ends are drawn together with a cord threaded through a casing sewn on the end. Fitting the top was done by trial and error...we would have liked it a bit tighter, but it looked pretty good. Overall, the extra weight is minimal, and since it's on a wagon body and not a cart, it wasn't really a concern when asking the dog to pull. The bonus is that the whol contraption comes apart for travel, storage and reuse. Assembly takes a couple of minutes once we arrive at a site. Rear view of Danica and the wagon.

Carting with Your Dog