Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just a note to new viewers

Don't forget to check the bottom of the page for  "Older Posts"  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

LA wagon notes 2


Most of the older shows except RBBB had a single footboard in the cent of the wagon. In this case the brake was usually operated by a hand wheel at the left side of the seat. Nearly all RBBB wagons had center mounted foot brakes with what amounted to two separate but shorted footboards one on each side of the brake rod, resulting in a greater total length.

As with most things “Circus” there is no absolute answer to any Question…. Hardly! I would say tha the dimension of the fooboard from front to back would be about 1’ 4” [;is abpit a 6” up turn on the front end. The width varied considerably and was dependent to sone extent to the spacing of the body stakes on the front end of the wagon. A widgh of 2’ 6” tp 3’ would be about right. The foot rest would be 18” below the seat or wagon roof if there is no seat . The ladder rungs or foot steps should be spaced about 15 “ apart and there should be equally space between the footboard and the wagon bottom . On a wagon 6’ high this would place the bottom one 11” above the wagon bottom and the top one 11” bellow the footboard.


The generally were 12 or 13 ft long although occasionally the might be found to be 14 feet. This length includes about 1 ½ feet of length that fits into the ple seat at the front end of the fifth wheel on the wagon. Thus they will project beyond the whiffle trees only about 10 ½ or 11 ½ feet.


These tongue instead of fitting into a slot on the front of the fifth wheel as did the old style tongues, attached to the fifth wheel. The were attached to a pinion so that they could fold up lat against the front of the wagon when loaded on the flat cars. In fact they were rarely if ever detached from the wagon. The tongue flaired out to a wide “Y” shape about one foot six inches from where it attached toteh wagon and about two feet wide at the point. RBBB used a similar type on their newest wagons back in the 1950’s

LA wagon notes 1

Modeling Notes from the “Lucky Allen” Collection


It is more or less correct that there was no “ rhyme or reason” to the numbering of circus wagons, it is correct in the sense that there was no uniformity of numbering between shows. However, each show had its system and close observation will give you some idea of the significance of the numbers. Most shows numbered their wagons by Departments. Usually all the cages would be numbered in sequence,, quite frequently in the 20’s and 30’s. similarly, the seat wagons, those carrying the jacks, stringers, chairs, bibles, and planks would be numbered in sequence, frequently in the 80’s and 90’s the big top canvas and pole wagons would also be in the same number or tens group, and so it gos. Other groups or departments with two or more wagons for which this system would be used would be the side show, and Midway, dressing top, trunks and wardrobe, performers properties and rigging, baggage stock , dinning dept. Incidentally while not too many wagons were numbered below 10, the dinning dept quite frequently had the lowest numbers and on some showers were numbered in the single digits. “Number 1 Band wagon” did not refer to its number but rather to its position in the parade. It was the first bandwagon in the parade and usually the largest. If it served a double purpose by carrying baggage also, as most did its number would correspond to the department it belonged to as described above. So long as a wagon remained on the same show its number would usually stay the same. However , as wagons moved from show to show as they frequently did their numbers were quite likely to change to fit them into the new show’s system. Since Band and Tab wagons did move form show to show with more frequency then baggage wagons their numbers over the years might vary considerably


All wagon roofs except for a rare exception are arched. This was done by running beams from side to side on 14” or 15” centers. For a 6’ wide wagon the arch was about 3” above the sides at the center and on a 8’ wide wagon it was about 4” Some shows but not all built them with a underside arch also, All RBBB wagons being so built, these beams were notched at each end and fitted inside and on the top of the sides of the wagon. The bema at the center if not arched underside would be about 5” or 6” deep respectively. The beams were covered with planking running lengthwise of the wagon.

The planking was then covered with heavy canvas and painted with regular water proof deck paint.