Carriage Making

Much has been said about the influence of bicycle technology on the development of the airplane, and historians have been quick to point out that chain drives and tubular steel construction evolved from bicycle making. But pioneer aircraft borrowed just as much if not more from the carriage making trade. By the end of the nineteenth century, carriage making had developed into an engineering science, using metal and wood components to create a lightweight but durable structure. The Wright brothers borrowed freely from this science to create airframes. They even used some carriage parts the wing tips of their airplanes were "top bows" designed to support folding buggy tops.

They probably picked up some of this carriage-making knowledge at their Uncle Daniel's farm near Liberty, Indiana. Their grandfather John Koerner had been a master carriage maker, and he had trained his son Daniel Will and Orv's uncle whom the brothers visited in their adolescence.

This farm wagon was built near Liberty, IN  before 1876, when it was photographed. It may be the work of John Koerner. Even if it isn't, it is typical of the sorts of vehicles he produced.

The wing tips of the 1903 Wright Flyer were cut-down carriage  top bows, purchased from a manufacturer in Dayton, Ohio that made carriage parts.

Influence of Carriage Making on Aviation