When Peter Adams started his wagon building company in Paris, Ontario in 1863, designs were very basic and relatively simple from an engineering point of view.

Adams Wagon

Demand was such that hundreds were shipped from Paris to Winnipeg in a season and soon Adams was building a new factory to increase production.

His wagons were well built and were worked hard by the farmers who purchased them. But farmers were renowned for ignoring the load limits of their equipment. If the wagon could carry it, it was loaded on for shipment. The results were inevitable – a considerable number of broken axles, despite the fact that the axle beams were 6” x 4” hardwood section. By the mid 1800’s, Peter had solved his problem with a relatively sophisticated (for the day) engineered solution, one that had so far only been used primarily on bridge truss construction.

Axle showing truss

A length of half inch diameter round steel bar, threaded both ends, was installed under the axle beam resting against two cast iron supports. The two ends were bent up slightly and the bar ends passed through the centre of the cast iron skein bearings as they were installed on the beam ends. A nut was installed on each end of the bar and tightened to apply tension to the bar. This truss took any weight that deflected the wood beam, and had the effect of doubling the strength and carrying capability of the axle beam.

View of truss under rear axle

Peter Adam’s problems with axle breakage from customer overload became a thing of the past. And, despite Adam’s having patented this design, it was soon a feature that many competitors tried to copy with varying degrees of success.