Welcome Pioneer Equipment

Pioneer Equipment logo
Pioneer Equipment is one of America’s largest manufacturer of horse drawn equipment

People ask me, “Did you build your wagon?” I point at the yellow wagon body and say, “yes, I built the body.” Then I say, “but Pioneer Equipment built the running gear.” Today I’d like to welcome Pioneer Equipment aboard as the latest Lost Sea Expedition supporter.  Here’s more about how Pioneer fits in to the Lost Sea Expedition.

My mule Polly and the Lost Sea Expedition wagon straddle the North Dakota/Montana state line. I built the wagon especially for the voyage.
My mule Polly and the Lost Sea Expedition wagon straddle the North Dakota/Montana state line. This is the yellow wagon Polly pulled across America.

The Lost Sea Expedition

The Lost Sea Expedition is a 4-part series about my 14 month wagon voyage across America.  For the series, I built a small wagon and filmed my way from Canada to Mexico.  The series premiers on Rocky Mountain PBS late 2017.

Route of the Lost Sea Expedition
Route of the Lost Sea Expedition

The wagon behind the TV Series

I’m lucky. As I’ve written elsewhere, I’m the kind of guy that can just set off with a bit of gear knowing full-well that things are going to turn out well.  The key is to set off with a bit of gear.  Not too much. Not too big. Don’t make too many plans.

So early in the planning stages of the Lost Sea Expedition, I knew what I wanted in a wagon. The wagon had to be small and light enough to be pulled by one mule. I also wanted to build it quickly. I didn’t want to spend years building the perfect wagon. Better to put the energy in to the voyage, not getting ready to take the voyage.

That’s why, early in the planning process, I decided to buy the wagon’s running gear.

Pioneer wagon chassis.
For illustration only. Here’s a Pioneer running gear I used to build a flat bed wagon.  I used that wagon for hay rides and plain ‘ol messing about. A great rig. I later removed the wood bed and added a large body.

Running Gear

The running gear is all the stuff that makes a wagon run: front and rear axles, brakes, wheels and the coupling pole that connects the front and rear axles.

At the time I lived in Southern Pines, North Carolina. I’d been around wagons just enough to understand that it would be faster, instead of building my own running gear, to just go ahead and buy that part of the wagon.

It happened quickly. One day I was thinking of building a wagon chassis out of a junked Ford Pinto. The next day, I was the proud owner of a Pioneer running gear.

Bernie building Pioneer wagon
Here I’m building the large wagon body on the chassis pictured above. The primer-colored box is the steel frame work that, with the addition of walls and a roof, will become the wagon body. This is the wagon I gave my buddy Bob Skelding after his wagon was destroyed by a tractor trailer. He ended up putting 10,000 miles on that rig.

Building the Wagon Body

Now that I had the running gear, I just needed to build the wagon body. I got busy in my buddy Mel’s garage and, in short order, welded up a simple frame. To that, I added sides and a roof.

Bernie' wagon during construction.
Here’s how the wagon body looked after I added sides and roof beams.
A cozy interior.
A cozy interior.

 And the rest is history

Flash forward. I’ve built my wagon. I’m heading from Canada to Mexico.  I meet all sorts of folks and encounter the best – and worst – the Great Plains can throw at at a man.

A Saskatchewan farming family tops up Polly oat supply (outside Lake Alma, SK)
A Saskatchewan farming family tops up Polly’s oat supply (outside Lake Alma, SK)

 

Wagon underbody
The Pioneer gear in action. Pioneer’s equipment is often red. I repainted their running gear to match my wagon’s yellow and green paint job.
Mule Polly in the snow.
Brrrrr. Mule Polly and I make our way through a snow patch of South Dakota weather. This was one of those times I could have used another bit of gear Pioneer Equipment sells – sled runners that attach to the wheels.

But wait a minute? Where are the photos of the wagon crashing and the frame bending and the wheels falling off the hubs? Well, sure, we had those crashes.

Wagon crash
Polly jumped a fence….while attached to the wagon. The fence bent. The Pioneer running gear didn’t. (Outside Alzada, MT)

But there aren’t any photos of broken axles or coupling poles because, well, nothing like that ever broke on my wagon. That Pioneer gear was just that stout.

About Pioneer Equipment

Pioneer Equipment is Amish owned. They sell their equipment through distributors. In keeping with their beliefs, they don’t maintain an online presence or website.

Still, you can call or write them for info, spare parts and their catalogue.

Contact:
Pioneer Equipment

16875 Jericho Road

Dalton, Ohio 44618

Ph: 330 857 6340

Thanks Pioneer Equipment for your support .

 

 

 

 

 

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