Meadowbrook Makeover

Here is a Quasi – recent picture of Chewie and me.  This is actually from April, but I’d like to start with it, because it shows the cart pretty well. 


Click on the pics and they will enlarge.

So, I have a horse show coming up in August which I am super excited about for several reasons.  A) It’s a combined driving event.  B) It’s the first time I am showing Chewbacca this year.  C) I had to skip it last year due to unfortunate circumstances  D) not only am I showing Chewie in it, but I am ALSO showing Luke!  YAY!  E)  it will be Luke’s first CDE event, and the first time I will have ever showed Luke.  F) It’s going to be a BIG show.  BIG.  Like 25+ entries, including a 4 in hand.

Enough reasons?

Well, anyway, I started looking recently at Chewbacca’s cart.  I have a new driving outfit, a beautiful new hat (in green, of course) which I will get to wear all of once to show Chewie, and a beautiful horse, if I do say so myself. 

However, the meadowbrook was lacking a little.  I knew it needed to be restained a bit and needed some general  “pretty-fying”.

So, the last couple days – the hottest of the year so far – I figured I won’t work the horses, since it’s way too hot.  Which left both the horses and the carts with some “down time”.  Seemed like a perfect time to start a little refinishing project.

Chewbacca’s cart, which I bought in 2011, is 27 years old.  I bought it when it was 25 and still “new”.  That is to say, it had never been hitched to a horse.  It was stored in a barn, and never used.

Despite being never used, it still needed a little refreshing.  Time took a toll on some bolts, and the seats were something I didn’t like, so I reupholstered them shortly after buying the cart.  I also didn’t like the single tree, so I bought a new one and replaced it.

Recently, though, as I started looking at the cart,  I noticed some wear and tear that really needed help.  The shafts had scuffing:


and some of the vinyl on the shafts had been worn through. Finish was coming off and one of the floor boards in the box looks like it never even had finish on it.


Plus, I haven’t ever really cared for the vinyl on the cart anyway.  It’s all “shiny” and looks like someone’s pair of pants gone wrong from the 1980’s pleather days.

So, I bought some new material for the shafts and single tree, new stain and clear coat, and cracked out the power sander, some tools, and slated my mornings for 3 days in a row while it was cool (ish) to get to work.

First thing I did was pull the fittings off the shafts.  Look at how nasty they look!  Yikes!!


For some reason, the shafts were never fully stained.  The person who made this cart apparently never saw fit to put any finish on them all the way up to the tips.  I know of course that it would be covered with material, but still-  no finish?  Really?  That just seems like a shortcut to me.

I didn’t really take any shortcuts with the cart.  I wanted it to be done right, and I really wanted it to be GLEAMING when I was finished.  For the upcoming show in August, I really wanted it to not only look nice, but shine.  Literally SHINE.  Remember that as you read through this.

Dixie and Jesse supervised me as I worked, helping to point out any areas I missed:

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And the first order of business was to sand, sand, sand, sand, wipe down, and sand some more.  Rinse and repeat.

   20130717_100749 20130717_100753  20130717_100817 20130717_112330 20130717_112336

With whole cart sanded, it was ready to put the first coat of new stain on.  I did this all in morning.  About 6 hours of work, from pretty much 6:30 am until a little before 1.

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Looking good, yes?!

The next morning involved coat of stain #2….





….and replacing the shiny and un-pretty vinyl on the singletree, which is done and pictured:


And since I had to wait for the 2nd coat of stain to start to dry before I could do anything else, and since I had all the equipment out, I took a break from Chewbacca’s cart and turned on the mini cart, which clearly needed help:

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Look at all those scuffs, rubs, and scratches!  Sheesh!  Talk about banged up!!!

I didn’t go beserk on it, and pull everything apart, but I did sand it down and restain it quickly.  Looks much better, wouldn’t you say?

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So that killed about an hour, and it was back to the meadowbrook.  Sometime last year, I tried to apply pinstriping to the wheels.  I don’t know what I did wrong, but it didn’t stick.  It started to peel off within a day or two, and after about a week of peeling it off in strips, I just pulled it all off.

Well, since I was doing a complete makeover of the cart this time around, I went back to the pinstriping option – this time, putting it on while the stain was still tacky AND I planned to put an extra coat of gloss polyurethane clear coat over it, so the pinstriping should be held on not only by its own adhesive back, but also from the top and bottom with stain & finish.  It should NOT come off, lol.

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I got 1 & 1/2 wheels finished on day 2, and then I was done.  Too hot to continue.

On the morning of day 3, I  finished my 1/2 wheel with striping and the last little bit of clear coat.

Then it was on to the final touches:  Put the new material on the shafts, and do all of the black touch up needed for every bolt and screw I sanded/replaced.

The biggest thing I did differently, was shorten the length of the material at the tips of the shafts.  The original vinyl was 32″ long, but I decided to go with 25″ of material, to show off more of the wood.  I put in all that work, I didn’t want to go cover it up!!!  If you look at the before pic at the top, you will notice how far past the girth the material on the shaft ends.  It pretty much stops at mid-belly.  The new “layout” of the material should have it stop at the girth, with the shaft loops perfectly (I hope!) centered on it, and more of the shiny, super glossy wood visible.

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Just showing some of the bolt heads, which I had to repaint after stripping the paint off them during sanding.




All finished!!  The last day took about 3 1/2 hours to complete the work.

Total time spent was roughly 18 hours. 

20130719_110010….. and proof that my cart now shines enough to be blinding:


Oh yea, baby.  That’s just sunlight reflecting off the clear coat.  Maybe if I blind the judge in the dressage ring, she won’t notice all the mistakes I will make during the test 😉

Sounds like a reasonable plan to me!


It’s shiny and pretty – and now I don’t even want to use it.  I guess I need to retire Chewbacca, because his cart is just too darned pretty to use at this point! lol.


I’m really proud of myself that I was able to accomplish all this despite temps pushing 90, and by myself!  Plus it looks better than I hoped.  I was so afraid I was going to screw something up and make it worse, but I am so happy with how it looks now and really glad I did this!

Woot woot!


Since I did the mini cart and Chewbacca’s – you know Luke’s cart will be next!


About kshai1715

I am a lifelong equestrian, photography enthusiast, sci-fi lover, and sci-fi convention & costuming geek that also loves movies and video games. I am a hard working 30 something woman that survived cancer and am looking forward to a long, healthy, self-empowered life. Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy reading about my horses (and the rest of my life) as much as I like writing about them.
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3 Responses to Meadowbrook Makeover

  1. Mia H says:

    Looks great! Where did you find the vinyl material for the shafts? I am looking to start a similar project.

    • kshai1715 says:

      Hi Mia;

      The vinyl was purchased at a fabric store. Any Hobby Lobby or other fabric store will have it; it is usually found with the upholstery fabric. It is very inexpensive.

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