Friday, January 13, 2012

Soap-box Cart Buildin'

by Jenno (or Peter St. John)

Yeah, well— a certain person, wot shall remain nameless, reckons as 'ow Oi ought ter write a post. Trouble is, writin' ain't exactly wot Oi do best, if'n yew see wot Oi mean. Any'ow, fer the sake o' peace an' quiet, Oi said as 'ow Oi'd give it a go. So 'ere it is:

Oi'm s'posed ter write somefink wots 'istorical. Oi ain't really inter 'istory,
though there are some people around as reckons as 'ow Oi'm somefink a bit 'istorical mesself (or do they mean 'isterical? Wot ain't polite...). Any'ow, wot Oi'm goin' ter do, is ter tell yew a bit about ow we make soap-box carts in Widdlin'ton, wot is the village in England where Oi come from. Incidentally, there's a map o' Widdlin'ton on wot shows where moi 'ouse is. It shows the Mountain Glide where we race, an' all. Yew c'n 'ave a look if'n yew loike. There's some pictures of me there, as well as pictures o' some of our soap-boxes. Any'ow, back ter cart makin'...

It ain't very difficult ter make a soap-box cart, provided yew've got a box an' some good wheels. The best kind 'ave got ball-bearings rather than ordin'ry plain bearings. Yew c'n sometimes get 'em off'n an old perambulator (Wot lovely word! But Oi fink that in America it's wot they call a "baby carriage"). The underneath part is loke wot Molly 'as in the picture 'ere. My own cart, "Emmeline P", 'as got
pram wheels too, wot come off my perambulator after my daft bruvver let it roll down the steps in front of ol' farmer Catchpole's tractor… The wheels were still okay though.

Moi cart is named after that there Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, wot chained 'erself ter railin's an' went ter prison, an' all, so's women c'd get ter vote in England. A right great lady she were, even though she weren't very big; loike me. She's got 'er statue in a little park roight by the railin's o' Parliament 'Ouse, near that woppin' great clock wot they call Big Ben, though roightly speakin' it's the bell wot sounds the hour wot is really Big Ben. Any'ow, moi cart's called Emmeline P; loike yew c'n see in the picture 'ere, an' nat’rally, it's the
fastest cart in Widdlin'ton, even if it's me wot says so.

O' corse, yew're also goin' ter need a good wooden soap-box. Yew used ter be able ter get one from the local store; they were only too glad ter be rid of 'em. It's
probably a bit 'arder ter get one these days, wot wiv the war, an' crises, an' modern packagin', an' all that sorta fing. Still an' all, yew c'n always make a box out of a plank or two; in which case, it's a good idea ter use somefink a bit thinker, 'cos, when all's said an' done, them usual soap-boxes are just a bit flimsy. They don't stay tergevver so well if yer cart 'appens ter turn over;
wot ain't so rare.

A real important part of the cart, the long plank wot 'olds everyfink tergevver, is wot we call the "Spine". That's gotta be real thick, three-quarters of an inch at least. If it's any thinner, it'll be all springy, loike wot them big American cars are, an' then yew c'n get kinda seasick when it bounces up an' down over the bumps. Besides, it's gotta be solid enough ter take the 'ole at the front fer the steerin' bolt. If'n it's too thin, yew'll lose the front axle the very first toime yew ride down over a curbstone. See wot Oi mean?

When Peter an me made moi Emmeline P, Oi come along wiv a tin full o' nails, only Peter said that nails weren't no good fer makin' carts. Yew 'ave ter screw 'em, or better still, bolt 'em tergevver, 'cos nails work loose pretty quick. Oi pass the tip on. Yew don' 'ave ter thank me fer it, 'cos Oi didn't know it either at the toime. The best sort o' bolts, are them wiv a little square under the ‘ead. They call 'em "coach" bolts. Yew need ter fix 'em wiv a washer under the nut,
ovverwise it 'urts the wood, an' then they come loose as quick as yew c'n say Akron Hill.

If'n yew use screws ter fix the box ter the spine, then it's best ter put some glue on as well. Then it won't never come apart. The wheels, complete wiv axle, yew c'n fix underneath wiv "U" bolts. Oi reckon as 'ow Oi don't 'ave ter describe wot a "U" bolt is, 'cos it looks exactly loike wot it's called. An' that'd be useful fer everyfink, don't yew reckon?

Go well. 'Appy cartin'!

Wiv love from Jenno.



  1. As a child, I would have found making and riding these a blast, but now I shudder at the thought of hurdling down a hill in a contraption that I made.

    Fun post! Thanks!

    1. Thank yew Sophia. If'n yer "contaption" ain't no longer raceworthy, Oi c'd always lend yew moi "Emmeline P". She's a great runner, wiv ball-bearin's an' all. Any'ow, Oi really 'preciate yer vote in favour of moi very first bit o' writin' ter come out in public. O' corse, there was that petition wot we wrote ter the King, but that was done by all of the gang tergevver. Oi did find the parchment fer it though...

  2. Well done, Jenno! Your article was great fun, and informative as well.

    1. Thank yew Lauren, Oi'm real glad yew loiked it 'cos Oi were a bit nervous about writin' it, it bein' my first an all. D'yew reckon it were informative enough ter build a cart from? Oi 'ope so. Any'ow, thank yew agen, Jenno

  3. Thank yew Katherine, Oi'm roight glad yew found it fun. It's even more fun ter race a cart, Oi c'n tell yew. 'Ave yew ever raced?
    Thank yew fer yer comment, best wishes, Jenno


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