Old Order Mennonite Buggy Shop


This is not an Amish buggy. Biking enthusiast and adventure blogger the Spokesrider has posted a few interesting photos from inside an Old Order Mennonite buggy shop in Indiana.

Owner LeRoy Martin hails from the area of Indiana described in yesterday’s post on the Nappanee Amish.  His shop does have some Mennonite and Amish customers, but many are in fact non-Plain, with Martin’s new and renovated buggies being used in urban settings. Think tourist areas like Central Park or other historic districts.

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    1. That is one red buggy. I like it. not many people around that make or repair buggies anymore I reckon

    2. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, Erik.

      Your mention of the Polish equestrian tradition made me wonder about the Russian movie, “1612: Chronicles of the Dark Times”, in which Polish horse-mounted soldiers are depicted wearing some sort of feathered, well, I’m not sure what you’d call it. I posted a screen shot and YouTube link in my Russian movie blog: http://kino.reticulator.com/2009/12/31/feathers/ .

      Do you know anything about it? What birds provided the feathers, and on what occasions were those things really worn? I don’t think they would make soldiers agile in battle.

      I realize Russia and Poland have had issues over the years, so thought I should find out what the other side thought of this depiction. (The movie is not a good one, IMO, even though the director has done some very good work elsewhere. This one is way too much like an American movie.)

    3. Micelle wrote:
      That is one red buggy. I like it. not many people around that make or repair buggies anymore I reckon

      You might be surprised Michelle. I can name about 4 or 5 shops just in my home state that will at least repair buggies and wagons; and the only Amish community in the state will custom build them anyway you want. I know that there are several shops advertised in Small Farmers Journal that build buggies and carriages, and there are quite few on the internet as well.

      The funny thing is when I was talking to the patriarch of the somewhat local Amish community about the buggies that they build, he told me that most of the Amish that he knows had gone to using fibreglass wheels on their buggies, whereas the non-Amish customers that he has invariably want the traditional wooden spokes and felloes. I thought that was interesting. You would think it would be just the opposite. Don’t know if this is the case in the more traditional “Amish” areas like PA, OH or IN or not.

    4. OldKat,

      You might be interested to know that most Amish buggies now have hydraulic brakes. At least that’s what LeRoy Martin said of those he deals with. No more dangerous runaways. And when the driver lets up on the brake pedal, the sound of it hitting its return position signals to the horse that it’s time to go again. It almost doesn’t need the driver to signal with the reins.

      1. Stacey long

        Martin surrey

        I have inherited a 2 seated surrey made by martins buggy. I also have a amish dr buggy. And then also have 3 wagons. We are tryingto sell these but don’t know what kind of price to put on them. I do have pictures. Stacey (770)837-8218 or murl (404) 374-7686. Thank you for any help

    5. I had heard that, Spokesrider. The only hydaulic brakes I saw being used in the Amish community where I had my driving horses trained were on buggies that they were building for other people. I noticed that most of the buggies that they used personally were pretty well worn, so maybe they will put brakes on the next generation of buggies that they build for themselves. Of course, I also didn’t see every buggy in the community either so there may have been some around.

      Typically, the real value of buggy brakes is to keep the buggy from shoving the britchen against the horses rump on a downhill slope. Since their community is only about 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico the terrain is pretty well flat, so that may not be a real issue for them.

      I did notice, however, that most of their newer buggies had auto-steer front ends on them (like the front end of an automobile) rather than the older 5th wheel configuration. They said this would make the buggy less prone to flipping if they made a real tight turn at highway speed (highway speed for their buggy horse, not highway speed like you and I think about it). With a 5th wheel front axle you can actually jack knive a buggy, but the auto-steer only allows the front wheels to turn so much …preventing the inside wheel from running up under the buggy and causing it to flip.

    6. Brenda Whicker

      HI, Auto steer? What is that? My carriages have the “5th wheel” design…

    7. I’m not sure about more conservative communities still using friction brakes, but that is right, the hydraulic brake is the most common now.

      And Oldkat I’m wondering when the Texas Amish are going to finally permit the hydraulic onboard buggy ceiling fan to keep those things cool!

    8. Winged hussars in Poland

      Spokesrider, I just watched a Polish film (Ogniem i Mieczem/By Fire and Sword) here that featured that dress. I believe these were the winged hussars, here is sth from wikipedia. I agree, it seems to be quite a bizarre accessory:

      There are several theories to explain their meaning. According to some they were designed to foil attacks by Tatar lassos; another theory has it that the vibrating of feathers attached to the wings during the charge made a strange sound that frightened enemy horses. In 1970s those theories were however abolished. When an adaptation of The Deluge, a Polish historical novel was made, it revealed that the wings attached to the riders’ back almost threw them out of their saddles when their horses went faster than a trot (when attached to the saddle they slowed down the horse greatly). Most probably the wings were used only for parades and other special occasions, but probably never in battle.There is another possibility, however, that the wings were worn to make their own horses deaf to the wooden noise makers used by the Ottoman and the Crimean Tatars.

      and the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_hussars

    9. Greg Martin

      I was wondering why the Amish or Mennonite have numbers on there buggy or horse? I just seen this today, is there somesort of Holidays, marriage or funneral?