- The body is the large part of the carriage that holds the driver and passengers. The dash, or dashboard, is a vertical front piece that helps protect the occupants from mud or anything else the horses kick up. The boot, a term that is still used with cars in England, is the trunk, or an enclosed area for carrying goods.
Step, Seat and Footboard
- The step helps the driver and passengers climb aboard the carriage, which sits high off the ground because of the large wheels. Once in their seats, occupants can rest their feet on a raised platform called a footboard.
- Traditionally, carriage wheels were large to allow movement over rough terrain. In the past, the wooden wheels had iron or steel rims, but these are often rubber on modern carriages. At the center of each wheel, the spokes connect to a hub, which is made of hardwood and held together by metal rings. Modern hubs contain metal bearings. Because of the dry climate in the Old West, wooden wheels would shrink, which could cause the metal hub rings, and even the rims, to fall off. To prevent this, some carriage owners would remove the wheels and soak them in a creek or pond so the wood would expand.
- The undercarriage includes the chassis, or the frame that supports the carriage body, and the axles, which are part of the "running gear." The axles contain spindles, which hold the wheels. Poles called "reaches" connect the front and rear axles to stabilize the carriage and help keep it from tipping. Many carriages have leaf springs between the axles and body to help cushion the ride.
Fifth Wheel and Tongue
- The fifth wheel is a coupling similar to a horizontal wheel that allows the front axle and wheels to pivot, helping the carriage to turn. The tongue is a long piece of wood that protrudes from the front of the carriage to connect with the horses.