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Modern-Day “Medicine Show” Wagon
When Scarlet Ravin needed a vendor wagon for the medicinal products she sells, she turned to local woodworker and handyman Dave Baber. Baber had done a fair amount of work for her at her ranch. Now she tasked him with making a modern-day medicine show wagon.
“I spent about 3 mos. on it over winter, working on it part-time each week,” recalls Baber. “I started with a general plan, but Scarlet was involved in every detail. She showed me on the wall of the trailer where she wanted a vendor window and how big it should be.”
Baber prefers that kind of interaction with customers. When he makes benches and other furniture based on Spanish colonial designs from the late 1700’s and 1800’s, he often leaves them without a finish.
“I like to let the buyer tell me what they prefer,” says Baber.
He copies the general design of antiques, adding his own detail and often improving on the construction of the original. “Our woodworking tools are so much more precise,” he explains. “They often used a saw kerf design, but I can make mine much more uniform than they could.”
In the case of the medicine wagon, it was less a matter of original styling than producing a vendor wagon that worked for Ravin. Baber started with an old RV trailer. It was in its third life, having been repurposed first as a sheepherder’s hut and then as a mobile chicken coop.
“I knew the owner and asked if I could buy it for the project; she gave it to me,” says Baber. “I tore it down to its metal frame base and flipped the axle and wheel over. That lowered the frame to the desired height.”
Baber shortened the 16-ft. frame to 12 by 7 ft. and built a new body out of 2 by 4’s and Russian cedar tongue and groove for the exterior. The interior is 7 by 10 ft., allowing the roof to extend over an open bench on the front end and over the custom-designed rear door with its rounded top.
“I spent 2 days building the door and handcrafting the stained-glass window,” recalls Baber.
On the interior, Baber heavily insulated the walls before covering them with plywood. Wheel wells were covered over with benches bookended with storage cabinets.
As Ravin uses the vendor wagon as a mobile shop, the interior is filled with small shelves to store and display her infused oils, tinctures, and bath products.
“I used a lot of raw edge boards for shelving and the other furniture, as well as a thick slash cut timber for the rear bumper,” says Baber. “Shelves have copper retention bands to keep items in place when the trailer is moved.”
Baber considers the trailer a joint venture with Ravin. “She would come up with the details she wanted, and I just had to make them happen,” he says. “The biggest challenge was simply keeping up with her enthusiasm.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Southwestern Wood Design, P.O. Box 1232, Chama, New Mexico 87520 (ph 575-910-0040; swwooddesign@icloud.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #5