About two years ago, Doug Hansen, owner of Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop, was contacted by administrators from the Fuji Safari Park in Japan. Their plans for the park included the addition of a Concord-style stagecoach to provide rides for children while being pulled by miniature horses. This coach was to be the highlight of visitors to the section of the Safari Park that depicts the American West.
“The period of America’s history that encompasses the western expansion or the ‘Wild West’ holds a fascination for people everywhere,” said Hansen, when asked about the popularity of the Western Concord Stagecoach design. “The stagecoach is an icon that very much represents the nostalgia of that era,” he added.
After several months of planning and correspondence between the staff at Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop and those at Fuji Safari Park, which included two visits by representatives of the Fuji Safari Park, the order was placed for a three-quarters-size Concord stagecoach. Although most of the plans could be simply reduced to scale, slight modifications were made to customize the coach for this specific application and overall aesthetics.
“Other than adding some height to accommodate a better view through the windows and width to allow for more comfortable seating, we used a three-quarters scale to build all of the coach components,” explained shop foreman and wainwright, Jerome Evans. Some of the other variations from scale included the sizing of the hand-painted scroll and buffalo stampede mural on the sides of the coach, for aesthetic purposes. Pony-size hitch equipment was also custom built in keeping with the miniature horses that would be used to pull the coach.
This scale-size stagecoach opens up the door to other applications for this historic icon of the American West. Not only are smaller stagecoaches ideal for indoor display as well as use with smaller horses, they also make for easier transport. This became evident to the Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop staff, as they loaded this miniature stagecoach onto an ocean container for shipment to Japan. In the past, when shipping full-size stagecoaches overseas, the coach body had to be removed from the undercarriage and then reassembled upon arrival.
Over the years, Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop has constructed several wagons, coaches and replica cannons for use overseas. The company’s website, hansenwheel.com, allows for broad access to information about the company and its products, which has greatly increased the number of international customers. Some of these clients include the Disney Park in Hong Kong, an immigrant museum in Denmark, a theme park in Germany and a ranch near Guadalajara--to name a few.
Although America has a very short recorded history compared to Western Europe and the Far East, the history of the American West holds an amazing fascination for people of all countries. From wagons and stagecoaches to wagon wheels and western antiques, Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop has provided quality products reminiscent of the old west to enthusiasts all over the world.
For information about Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop, contact: