Garages For Carriages
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
“Someone once said that as much care should be taken of a carriage as a gentleman would take care of his wardrobe,” says international carriage driving judge Sallie Walrond in her book “Driving A Harness Horse.”
The purchase of a carriage can require a significant investment and for both asset protection and safety of use, the type of garage for your carriage is worthy of consideration.
It’s ironic that the where now the carriage house is reused as a garage for the automobile, today’s horse carriage drivers seek a garage for their horse drawn vehicles. There are lots of good options on the market, and lots of good reasons to consider a special house to hold your carriage. Not only the proper storage solution provide protection from vermin, rust and dampness or damaging hot weather and sunlight, it can also afford a place to clean your carriage, check it over for safety and to make any restorations required. A designated storage structure for your vehicle will also offer plenty of space to hang harnesses and store tack, as well as walls to hang all those ribbons you will win during competition!
A garage for your carriage can also be locked and keep your prized vehicle away from curious children and pets. The former may delight in utilizing your carriage as a playhouse and without supervision this can take a toll on doors, floors and seating and cats are notorious for camping out on the soft cushioned bench and scratching the surfaces of the exterior of vehicles as they scramble to get aboard.
There are plenty of reasons to invest in a designated secure and safe area to store your carriage. You may have a large indoor arena where you can park your vehicle but then it will be subject to dust and even to damage from harrow equipment, tractors and horses. A cover may help, but it really only protects the carriage from dust to a certain degree and it also provides a closed environment that mice will love as a new abode.
Outside storage subjects your valuable vehicle to the elements, and dried cracked wood can result due to heat stress. It is prudent to carefully consider the temperature inside the building to avoid damage. Mother Nature can also dish out heavy rain and snow that is a recipe for rust and repairs being necessary.
If you contemplate storing your cart or carriage in the air, suspending it out of the way with a hoist system be aware that wood does not respond well to weight stress and carts, buggies and carriages are not designed to withstand periods of suspension and gravity. The wood may crack, bend or twist.
It is also not advised to tie the shafts to the ceiling or a joist to keep them in the air when tipping the vehicle, as similarly the delicate nature of the thinner wood will be subjected to unwanted stress. It is much better to securely block the wheels of a
two-wheeler and balance the weight of the vehicle on the wheels with the shafts in the air.
Storing your carriage or buggy in the horse barn can subject it to harmful exposure to ammonia fumes that can damage paint and varnish over time, and variant moisture levels can negatively affect wood.
Storage of your vehicle in a horse trailer may seem a good idea (if the floor is clean and there is no bedding of any kind inside), but it does mean the trailer is not available for use for horse transport without the necessity of removing the vehicle. This is not the best option in an equine emergency, and the task of the in/out access can be time consuming. A metal/tin trailer will also cause condensation during changes in the weather to build up inside the unit and the carriage may suffer damage over time as a result.
The style and size of your vehicle is important. Two wheelers will require tipping backwards to protect the splinter bar from becoming bent over time due to the pressure of the weight of the carriage so these will need some accommodation for height, as will coaches, broughams and the like. The entrance to the building should be high enough to ensure no damage to the vehicle and it is always best to plan for the future. When you start out driving a simple buggy may be sufficient, but as you progress in your driving talents you may end up needing a larger space for a tandem vehicle with a larger access height. It is also prudent to opt for an open plan design inside the structure to allow for ease of turning and placement of the carriage.
A concrete floor can provide an easy clean option but can conduct dampness. For rubber tired carriages a mat can be placed under the wheels to avoid tire rot. A wooden floor is a perfect solution for freewheeling your vehicle, and a modern polyurea floor is another option to consider if you plan to clean the vehicle inside the building or do repairs.
From time to time you will want to move your vehicle around to keep the wheels free and to service or make repairs, so a smooth finished surface is a good investment. Plus it will keep rodents and critters such as woodchucks from tunneling into the structure. All floor/wall connections should be sealed, and the main entrance doors are the most likely point of entrance for vermin, so ensure you have a rubber seal under the door to deter their efforts to move in.
Air circulation is important for leather, fabrics and wood all of which are common components of carriages. The movement of air through gable and ridge vents and soffits is paramount to keeping the vehicle condition optimized. Soffits that offer air ventilation should still be enclosed to prevent squirrels, raccoons or other wildlife from enjoying playtime with your carriage. Closed interior storage space can offer full temperature control for the vehicle, but be aware that even carriage museums have issues with cracking and drying of wood when temperatures are set for human comfort rather than vehicle needs.
Addition of a second storey to a garage can provide valuable storage space for all your driving gear. Of course that can mean lugging a lot of heavy equipment upstairs. Extra space for trunks downstairs can alleviate the need for a loft but you might find it useful for storing items that you don’t often use or as a place for supplies to repair your vehicle.
An overhang on the side of the structure can provide parking for your carriage or storage for hay/straw or other supplies, and can also be used to park your transport vehicle or trailer. It is the most inexpensive way to extend the space you have available for equipment that will also benefit from protection from the weather.
A Complementary Style
Modular and prefab garage options come in a myriad of styles from traditional carriage house to gambrel roofed Dutch barn designs and modern A-frame. You can choose from an array of colors for the siding and trim including modern materials that require little to no maintenance like LP Smartside.
A garage storage solution that complements other existing structures present on the property can not only enhance your view from the kitchen window but also your property value. While you may utilize the structure for your horse-drawn carriage, future owners of your farm or home can always use it as a garage for their automobiles.
Water and Electric
Service for both water and electric can be useful in any structure. When purchasing a prefabricated structure ask about having electrical circuits roughed in, and hose ports added.
Be aware that windows and skylights can provide wonderful natural light but they can also bring unwanted heat from direct sun. Many companies offer glass treatments that can defray the damage of ultra-violet light but managing the heat factor can still be a problem. Plan ahead carefully with placement of doors, windows or skylights to optimize the light while avoiding direct sunlight in the interior spot where the carriage will be stored.
Restore and Replenish
An interior workspace out of the elements that is well lit and can be utilized at any time of day or night or during any weather is a boon for the carriage owner. Repairs can be made as time allows, parts taken apart and cleaned or replaced without worry. How often have you started what you thought was a minor repair project that would take a few hours and uncovered a major issue that you were not expecting that needs new parts that will require time to replenish!
The task of maintenance of all moving parts is a matter of safety, and due care of the exterior and interior surfaces of the carriage will not only improve the appearance of your carriage but will also garner it a longer life span.
A large bench added to the side of the interior space can be a great help for cleaning the harness and for cleaning tack and equipment. Saddle soaping seat straps, polishing brass or patent leather can all be accomplished at your leisure when you have an interior space to work free from annoying insects, heat, cold or inclement weather.
If you think about it your carriage is almost always an antique and should be regarded as such when it comes to storage. Antique cars are often stored professionally in large state-of-the-art facilities that are temperature controlled and provide security against theft and damage. While your carriage may not be a vintage Rolls-Royce requiring that expense, your vehicle does deserve proper housing. Provision of a safe storage solution can save you much time and expense on unnecessary repairs and cleaning tasks.
A storage building or garage style addition to your property can be built off-site by a modular building company or on site. The former provides the advantage of the building process being completed inside without delays caused by inclement weather and all stains/painting can be applied in the proper temperature controlled factory environment. Application of special finishes such as polyurea floors can be completed easily, and delivery and set up on your property is fast and efficient. Almost magical!
If possible choose to work directly with a manufacturer, as this will give you more options on designs and custom features and their team will have lots of advice to share based on their extensive experience. Leading structure manufacturer, Stoltzfus Structures, based in Atglen, PA provide buildings of all sorts across the nation. Top quality Amish craftsmanship, a ‘ to the penny quote’ for your project, financing and warranties are just some of the benefits that this company offers. With over 40+ years of experience you know they are good at what they do.
The purchase of a modern day ‘carriage house’ is more affordable than you think. Give Stoltzfus Structures a call (610 593 7700) and get started now so you can have your vehicle fully protected before the snow flies.