That's all folks!

Completed May 1987

The dark wood is African ebony. It is extremely hard. The holes in the above photo each took an hour to cut and file. I have never again used African ebony in another build again.

Unfortunately I did not take step-by-step photos of the actual build. I will therefore try to highlight certain aspects along with photos. I also did not record the actual time spent (other than for the chain). When people asked how long (in hours) it took to complete and I could not answer definitively, it prompted me to start logging all the tme I spend on builds. I did, however, note the start date as being 22 February 1986, with completion on 15 May, 1987.


I used the following wood:

  •     Hubs: Rhodesian teak
  •     Rims: Imbuia
  •     Spokes: African ebony
  •     Chassis: African ebony 
  •     All other wood: Kiaat (side walls: kiaat veneer).


I made the chain myself. I particulary noted that it took 9hours to make the 70cm long chain. (see the method documented on this website by clicking                        ).

I used dental floss (stained with wood stain) for all the rawhide pieces.
Nothing has been painted except for the brass.
Once assembled, I oiled all wooden parts with Mobil furniture oil and it's lasted well so far (maybe because the wagon is in a glass case?)

After having built some basic models, and being a typcal South African, I decided that I needed (and wanted) to build a model of one our most iconic, historic vehicles ever: the oxwagon. I could however not find any reasonable drawings, let alone plans, because the wagonbuilders of old had passed their designs and skills down from generation to generation, which exacerbated the problem. I decided to find an original one, get permission to photograph and to take measurements of it - and then to draw my own plans. (Little did I know that this is what REAL model builders actually do!)


So, in 1985, after getting the requisite permission from the Willem Prinsloo museum in Rayton (60km from Pretoria), I managed to convince two friends to help take measurements of an original South African Boere wagon (a.k.a. Ossewa). This particular wagon (built in 1848) is smaller than the Boer Trek wagon and is called a Nagmaal Wa (Holy Communion wagon) - used when travelling to the nearest church for partaking in holy communion.

Considering that I had the bare minimal of tools at my disposal at the time of making this model, I consider this to be my best work ever.

(Thankfully I had access to a massive metal lathe)

NOTE: My old tape measure is not in the photo. That packed up years ago

The "ystertang" (Dutch name), where the hitching shaft was attached. 

The photo left, above, is of the original wheel. Though I tried to replicate the carvings, African ebony proved to be too hard. 

The braking block can be seen in the photo on the far right.

(To think that they therefore literally skidded down hills....)

Obviously the chickens would not follow the convoy, so they were kept in cages, which were then placed on the tailgate above. 

Many a domestic dispute has arisen amongst Afrkaans families as to who would inherit the chest that was carried along with the trekking Dutch-speaking people as they moved into the interor of southern Africa from Cape Town from 1836. Family chests are passed down through the generations and have great sentimetal value.  

The one above was made to open and close. However, because everyone wanted to see this, it eventually broke and I decided to glue the chest shut. Fiddling fingers are also what led me to make a glass case in which to house the model. A habit that I would use thereafter. 

My best model?

The bed consisted of a wooden frame, the inside of which was criss-crossed with rawhide. The bed was then hung from the sides, using rawhide.


The photo below shows typical cooking utensils. 3-legged pots are still in use, and are very

popular, in South Africa, although the modern generations speak of "making a potjie" (in most simplest terms, explained as: "slow cooking a stew over coals in a 3-legged pot") as though it were a modern culinary development! That always makes me chuckle.   

I must point out that I did not make the 3-legged pot - a fitter and turner buddy made it for me

As for the rest, I will merely post photos. Take note how ornate, yet simple the finishings were. I tried to replicate this from the original as best I could. 

The canvas covering was made by a friend's mom and I managed to replicate the stain by using coffee