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Illinois Family Builds Horse-Drawn Vehicles
Sleighs, carriages, doctor buggies, even coffin wagons - Howard Chupp and his sons build and restore any type of horse-drawn vehicles.
    The Arcola, Ill., family business fits the work in between their regular job of building one Amish buggy per week. Demand is good for both kinds of work, Chupp says. Work has been steady since he started his business in 1996.
    Chupp, a former construction worker, got the idea after he ordered a buggy and was told he'd have to wait two years. When that carriage builder retired, he gave Chupp blueprints and some advice. Now, with the help of his sons and a couple of nephews, the back order for buggies is six months instead of two years.
    "We use many of the same parts on the antique buggies, such as the wheels and running gear, that we use on the Amish buggies," Chupp says. "People see something they like and bring me pictures."
    He often starts by drawing the pattern on plywood, but the carriages are made out of all types of woods. Some are painted. Some have natural wood preserved with a marine varnish.
    Occasionally vehicles are in splinters when they come to Chupp's shop, such as the coffin wagon he fixed recently. It was in a parade when the horse pulling it spooked and damaged the front end.
    "We actually took those pieces and splinters and glued and epoxied them back together and re-formed intricate moldings on it," Chupp says.
    Other interesting projects have been buggies and sleighs with fold-down tops that doctors used, and a wagon presumed to have originally belonged to Cyrus McCormick. Chupp says the hand-forged steel is old and he found red paint on everything.
    Chupp has shipped his work to both coasts and has many customers in surrounding states. Cost for a basic carriage with fiberglass seats and a vinyl top starts at $4,000.
    "There's a lot of work out there," Chupp says. "There's a lot of driving clubs and also interest in trail rides. It used to just be in the Eastern states and now it's spreading westward."
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Howard Chupp, 604E Co. Rd. 200N, Arcola, Ill. 61910 (ph 217 268-3897).

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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #2