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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The "Uniquely Amish: Part II" Story

Some of the upholstery work that Eli was working on.  The
flashing lights are featured on the front and back.
It was an ordinary day.  Yesterday I began my two-part story about my visit to the Leola Coach Shop in Lancaster County, PA.  I had the best time talking to all the workers and watching them show me how they go about building or repairing Amish buggies.  Today the story starts as I found my way to the second floor of the shop and the upholstery area.  Here I got to meet Eli who was a young man who I guess to be late 20s or early 30s.  
This is the required red taillight and an orange
colored light that is also added for safety.
I introduced myself to him and told him why I was making my visit. He saw that I was carrying a small memo book where I was taking notes and wondered why I didn't bring my iPad with me.  I told him I still enjoy writing notes, but I surmise he thought I was from a different generation that didn't know how to use the current technology.  I also think that he probably possesses an iPad or some other type of tablet that he uses.  Anyway, Eli was very knowledgeable and proficient about his part of the procedure of coach repair and making.  He was placing finishing nails along the edge of the canvas that covered the frame of the coach.  
Upholstery and flooring for the coach.
In the distance were two young girls running industrial sewing machines, making the canvas tops Eli was installing and the seats that would line the inside of the coach.  The work all three were doing was precise and exceptionally well done.  Eli told me about the other parts of the coach which included the electrical system and safety features.  The coach is required by law to have red stop lights on the rear, clear headlights in the front and flashing reflectors across the top, both front and rear.  The triangular plastic reflective piece on the back is no longer required by law, but he said all buggies in this area of the state use them.  
The dash with the clock, speedometer and voltmeter.
The lights that are now used are all LCD lights which are brighter and reflect more.  There is also a wiper on the windshield to clear the rain.  I'm not quite sure how that is powered.  Inside the coach is a dash that had a small clock, meter to keep an eye on the voltage in the battery and a speedometer.  
Interior floorboard with brake and high-beam.
Yep, a speedometer!  A bicycle speedometer.  He told me that it was possible for a horse to reach 20 MPH, but probably only if it was running away from it's owner.  The doors of the buggy are made of wood and covered with fiberglass.  They slide in tracks along the sides of the coach.  On the floor in the front of the buggy is a foot pedal for the brake and a small foot button to change the head lights from low to high beam.  All the buggies he works on also have yellow lights on the front and back for safety, although not required by law.  The seats are not fastened, but only sit on rails along the inside of the coach.  Most coaches are for four adults, but can carry more if necessary.  
The coach is moved to the spot on the floor that
can be opened for lowering the coach onto the frame below.
They have no heat, but I could see that they are fairly well insulated and with four people inside maybe using lap robes, it would be tolerable in the winter.  Sitting nearby were the seats and carpet that were needed to finish the buggy that I was viewing.  After all is complete, the coach is wheeled to a door in the floor at the far end of the room and a hoist will lower it directly onto the undercarriage that will be waiting below.  Pretty neat set up and I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of workmanship that was demonstrated by the workers I met.  Almost made me want to buy a buggy.  Almost!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



As I left I could see buggies lined up waiting for pickup.

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